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24-01-2022

Beyond dis-ease and dis-order: exploring the long-lasting impact of childhood adversity in relation to mental health

The central aim of this dissertation was to investigate underlying mechanisms that may contribute to the emergence of mental illness, specifically focusing on the trajectory from childhood adversity to mental ill-health later in life. For this purpose, the contribution of both genetic and environmental factors in relation to mental health was explored, emphasizing the role of childhood adversity by examining its long-lasting impact at the cognitive, psychological, and psychophysiological level. The detrimental impact of childhood adversity was demonstrated on all levels. Results of this dissertation are supportive for the notion that childhood adversity does not directly impact (mental) health but involves an indirect effect that operates through various pathways that may be biological, psychological and/or social. Finally, it is argued that the body – and all the biological processes it embodies – plays a fundamental role that requires further understanding, addressing, and acknowledging within mental health care.