Impact of child maltreatment on meaning in life in psychiatric patients

Child maltreatment (CM) worsens prognosis and quality of life in several psychiatric conditions. Meaning in life is a construct which relates to the sense of purpose that one can perceive in life, and is a key aspect of recovery in psychiatric patients. The lasting impact of CM on meaning in life and its mediating variables have not been studied in patients with chronic persistent psychiatric conditions. One hundred and sixty-six patients with bipolar disorder (N=35), psychotic disorder (N=73), anorexia nervosa (N=30) or borderline personality disorder (N=28) were assessed for meaning in life (revised version of the Life Regard Index (LRI-R)), for CM (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ)) and for internalized/externalized psychopathology. CM was associated with a lower LRI score. Structural Equation Modeling showed that internalized psychopathology (depression, hopelessness and low self-esteem) was the main mediator of the impact of CM on meaning in life. The direct effect of CM on meaning in life was not significant. Having suffered from negligence or abuse during childhood is associated with lower meaning in life in adults with persistent and pervasive psychiatric disorders. Treating depressive symptoms and improving self-esteem may improve meaning in life in patients with severe mental disorders who were affected by CM.

  • Weibel S
  • Vidal S
  • Olie E
  • Hasler R
  • Torriani C
  • Prada P
  • Courtet P
  • Guillaume S
  • Perroud N
  • Huguelet P


  • Psychiatry Res
Feb 13;251():204-211