The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between affective disturbances and aberrant salience in the context of childhood trauma, attachment, and mentalization in an analogue study.
Using a cross-sectional design, an online community sample completed self-report measures of key variables. Structural equation modelling was used to test childhood trauma’s influence on aberrant salience via a set of intermediate risk factors (depression, negative schizotypy, and insecure attachment). These intermediate risk factors were assumed to lead to the proximal risk factors of aberrant salience (i.e., disorganized schizotypy and disorganized attachment) depending on the vulnerability of mentalizing capacity to elevated stress.
The sample (N = 1263) was 78% female and aged between 18 and 35 years. The tested models closely fitted the observed data, revealing significant pathways from childhood trauma to aberrant salience via the hypothesized pathways. The direct effect of childhood trauma on aberrant salience was significant.
Findings suggest that the pathway to aberrant salience may be characterized by disorganization of self-state and intersubjectivity as a function of diminishment in mentalizing ability. This may relate to changes in attachment organization and socio-cognitive capacity, which could constitute possible risk factors signalling development of aberrant salience.