Childhood trauma, parental bonding, and social cognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy adults

Karolina I. Rokita, Maria R. Dauvermann, David Mothersill, Laurena Holleran, Jessica Holland, Laura Costello, Caroline Cullen, Ruán Kane, Declan McKernan, Derek W. Morris, John Kelly, Michael Gill, Aiden Corvin, Brian Hallahan, Colm McDonald, Gary Donohoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study investigated associations between childhood trauma, parental bonding, and social cognition (i.e., Theory of Mind and emotion recognition) in patients with schizophrenia and healthy adults. 

Methods: Using cross-sectional data, we examined the recollections of childhood trauma experiences and social cognitive abilities in 74 patients with schizophrenia and 116 healthy adults. 

Results: Patients had significantly higher scores compared with healthy participants on childhood trauma, and lower scores on parental bonding and social cognitive measures. Physical neglect was found to be the strongest predictor of emotion recognition impairments in both groups. Optimal parental bonding attenuated the impact of childhood trauma on emotion recognition. 

Conclusion: The present study provides evidence of an association between physical neglect and emotion recognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy individuals and shows that both childhood trauma and parental bonding may influence social cognitive development. Psychosocial interventions should be developed to prevent and mitigate the long-term effects of childhood adversities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the volunteers who participated in this study. They are also grateful to Niamh Daly Ryan, Laura McHugh, and Catherine O'Donoghue for their assistance with various stages of the project. This study was funded by grants to GD from the European Research Council (ERC‐2015‐STG‐677467) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI‐16/ERCS/3787). Scientific editing by James Overholser.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • childhood trauma
  • emotion recognition
  • parental bonding
  • schizophrenia
  • social cognition
  • Theory of Mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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