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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)
Abstract
Synopsis

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.

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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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