The relationship between post-traumatic symptom severity and object relations deficits in persons with schizophrenia

Kristine M. Chapleau, Morris D. Bell, Paul H. Lysaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study was to determine if object relations deficits in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (i.e., schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder) are related to co-morbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Design Cross-sectional and correlational. Method Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, and Bell Object Relations Inventory were administered to 60 people with schizophrenia in an outpatient setting. With four hierarchical regressions, we hypothesized that, controlling for schizophrenia symptoms, diagnosis type, and potential demographic features, PTSD symptoms would correlate with each of the four types of object relations deficits. Results All participants reported experiencing at least one traumatic experience. As predicted, PTSD symptoms were a significant predictor of alienation, insecure attachment, and egocentricity controlling for schizophrenia symptoms, diagnosis type, and demographic features. Against prediction, PTSD was not associated with Social Incompetence. Conclusion If PTSD symptoms contribute to object relations deficits in persons with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, then interventions such as psychotherapy need to be developed to address PTSD symptoms in the treatment of these interpersonal deficits. Practitioner points Clinical implications Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, rather than schizophrenia itself, may explain increased problems with schizophrenia patients' alienation, egocentricity, and insecure attachment. Interventions such as psychotherapy need to be further developed to address PTSD symptoms as well as schizophrenia symptoms in this patient population. Limitations Participants were primarily male and middle-aged, and many years had passed since the onset of their illness. Replication is needed with diverse settings and participants, including women and persons in earlier phases of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. One self-report measure was used to estimate object relations deficits, a complex construct that may be difficult to measure accurately. This research is correlational and causation cannot be presumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-169
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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