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Childhood Psychosis

  1. Melita Daley,
  2. Tyrone Cannon

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0172

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Daley, M. and Cannon, T. 2010. Childhood Psychosis. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Los Angeles

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Psychotic symptoms are rather uncommon in the overall psychopathology presenting in childhood and adolescence. However, affective psychoses (psychosis associated with mood disorders), dissociative psychoses (psychosis associated with PTSD or dissociative identity disorder), and psychoses associated with or secondary to substance abuse are commonly seen in clinical practice. Although the existence of childhood schizophrenia has been recognized since the early twentieth century (Kraepelin, 1919), the term “childhood psychosis” before the 1960s was used to refer to a heterogeneous group of pervasive developmental disorders without hallucinations and delusions. It was not until the 1980s that childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS) was formally differentiated from autistic disorder, and that was after evidence was established that the clinical picture, family history, age of onset, and course of the two disorders were different. Even today, high rates of misdiagnosis remain, because transient psychotic symptoms can occur in healthy children, and fleeting hallucinations are not uncommon in nonpsychotic children, especially in the face of severe stress and anxiety. There is an increasing focus on COS as a neurodevelopmental disorder that is associated with deficits in cognition, affect, and social functioning (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 2001).


  • childhood;
  • psychosis;
  • schizophrenia;
  • pathophysiology