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Life events and psychiatric disorders1 Part 2: nature of causal link

  • G. W. Brown (a1), T. O. Harris (a1) and J. Peto (a2)

Methods are first described for testing for and measuring the proportion involved in the causal link between life-events and psychiatric disorders; the paper then deals with the nature of the causal effect itself. A method is described (and developed mathematically in an appendix) which enables a choice to be made between a triggering effect in which events are seen as precipitating an illness that would probably have occurred before long for other reasons, and a formative effect in which life-events either substantially advance onset in time, or bring it about altogether. The method is used to demonstrate the presence of a formative effect in depressive and a triggering effect in schizophrenic disorders.

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J. L. T. Birley , and G. W. Brown (1970). Crises and life changes preceding the onset or relapse of acute schizophrenia: clinical aspects. British Journal of Psychiatry, 116, 327333.

G. W. Brown (1959). Experiences of discharged chronic schizophrenic patients in various types of living group. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 37, 105131.

G. W. Brown , and J. L. T. Birley (1968). Crises and life changes and the onset of schizophrenia. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 9, 203214.

G. W. Brown , J. L. T. Birley , and J. K. Wing (1972a). Influence of family life on the course of schizophrenic disorders: a replication. British Journal of Psychiatry, 121, 241258.

D. Russell Davis (1970). Depression as adaption to crisis. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 43, 109116.

C. M. Parkes (1964). Recent bereavement as a cause of mental illness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 110, 198204.

E. S. Paykel , J. K. Myers , M. N. Dienelt , G. L. Klerman , J. J. Lindenthal , and M. P. Pepper (1969). Life events and depression: a controlled study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 21, 753760.

D. D. Reid (1961). Precipitating proximal factors in the occurrence of mental disorders: epidemiological evidence. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 39, 227250.

H. R. Steinberg , and J. Durell (1968). A stressful situation as a precipitant of schizophrenic symptoms: an epidemiological study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 114, 10971105.

P. H. Wender (1967). On necessary and sufficient conditions in psychiatric explanation. Archives of General Psychiatry, 16, 4147.

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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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