The Strangeness of Children
This chapter focuses on biological and behavioral antecedents of schizophrenia that may reflect an early brain lesion or a genetic predisposition to develop the illness. The idea of a cumulative liability for schizophrenic illness that increases with genetic and environmental “hits” over the course of childhood and adolescence is very appealing from a theoretical vantage point. Such a perspective can make up for the causal weakness of individual stresses and vulnerabilities. However, the empirical findings do not amount to a very powerful collection of illness-promoting hits and risks at the present time. Too many vulnerable children are indistinguishable from their peers and siblings and still go on to suffer from schizophrenia as young adults. Thus, the chapter moves to the question whether children who become schizophrenic are already different from their peers in childhood. The chapter concludes that some are different but most are not, at least not in terms of the characteristics studied to date.
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