Philip Hyland

Early life trauma as a risk-factor for psychiatric disorders and criminal behaviour.


Individuals who are exposed to traumatic events during their early development are at an increased risk for a range of deleterious psychological outcomes. Experience of maltreatment in early life has been strongly associated with stress-related psychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD (CPTSD), psychotic-related psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mood-related disorders such as depression, as well as an increased risk of psychopathic personality, and a general liability towards criminal behaviour. Although early life trauma is a risk-factor for the development of psychiatric distress and criminal behaviour, the mechanisms that confer differential risk for the development of these distinct outcomes is not yet well understood. In this lecture, the evidence indicating the connection between early life trauma and psychiatric disorders and criminal behaviour will be outlined. Additionally, the complex association between mental illness and criminal behaviour will be discussed; and finally, the talk will attempt to illuminate the factors that may explain why some early traumatised people develop psychiatric disorders, while others develop into criminals.