Relationship between neuroticism, childhood trauma and cognitive-affective responses to auditory verbal hallucinations

Poster A34, Thursday, October 20, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Suzanne Ho-wai So1, Marieke J.H. Begemann2, Xianmin Gong1, Iris Sommer2; 1The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2University Medical Center Utrecht

Neuroticism has been shown to have a negative impact on the development and outcome of psychosis. However, how this personality trait associates with the individual’s responses to specific psychotic symptoms is less well known. Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) have been reported in patients with psychosis as well as individuals in the general population. There is evidence that voice-hearers who are more distressed by and resistant against the voices, as well as those who appraise the voices as malevolent and powerful, have poorer outcome and are more in need for clinical care. This study aimed at examining the mechanistic association of neuroticism with the cognitive-affective reactions to AVH in clinical and non-clinical voice hearers. We assessed 40 psychotic patients experiencing frequent AVHs, 135 non-clinical participants experiencing frequent AVHs, and 126 healthy individuals without AVHs. We found that, in both clinical and non-clinical voice-hearers alike, a higher level of neuroticism was associated with more emotional distress. In addition, neuroticism predicted behavioral resistance in response to AVHs, as well as a stronger tendency to perceive voices as malevolent. We also found that neuroticism fully mediated the found associations between childhood trauma and the individuals’ cognitive-affective reactions to voices. Our results supported the role of neurotic personality in shaping maladaptive cognitive-affective reactions to voices. Neuroticism may also serve as a putative mechanism linking childhood trauma and psychological reactions to voices. Implications for psychological models of hallucinations are discussed.

Topic Area: Diagnosis and Phenomenology

Back to Poster Schedule