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Appraisals of Anomalous Experiences in Need for Care versus Non-Need for Care Groups: Examining the Cognitive Route of Impact of Victimisation Life Events

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology

Introduction
Psychotic-like experiences are commonly found in the general population; this raises the question as to why some individuals are in ‘need for care’ whilst others are not adversely impacted by such experiences. Cognitive models of psychosis highlight appraisals as key to moving people along the psychosis continuum. Victimisation has also been implicated in both clinical and non-clinical populations. The role of appraisals in providing a cognitive route between victimisation and psychosis is investigated more fully in the current study.

Method
Appraisals of two experimentally-induced anomalous experiences (the Cards Task and Telepath Task) and number of victimisation experiences (interpersonal trauma and perceived discrimination) of individuals currently endorsing psychotic-like experiences in ‘need for care’ (N = 25) and ‘not in need for care’ (N = 25) were compared. The relationship between victimisation and appraisal type (maladaptive versus adaptive) was also explored across groups.

Results
The ‘need for care’ group endorsed significantly higher ratings on maladaptive appraisals on both experimental tasks. The ‘non-need for care’ group endorsed significantly higher ratings on adaptive appraisals on the Telepath task. There were no significant differences in number of lifetime victimisation experiences between groups; however the ‘need for care’ group reported higher rates of adulthood discrimination. A significant relationship between victimisation and appraisals was not evident. Nevertheless there were some tentative links between adaptive, but not maladaptive, appraisals and impact and powerlessness in relation to victimisation experiences.

Conclusions
Results are consistent with cognitive models of psychosis. Similar rates of total victimisation experiences across the lifespan in both groups suggest that victimisation may be implicated in the formation of anomalous experiences, but not in determining ‘need for care’ status. Factors such as social support and on-going impact and powerlessness in relation to the victimisation experiences, may be more relevant to the transition to ‘need for care’.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Nov 2013

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