To overview the phenomenology, etiology, assessment, and treatment of psychotic-like symptoms in trauma-related disorders focusing on the proposed role of temporal lobe dysfunction.
We describe the literature pertaining to (i) psychotic-like symptoms and temporal lobe dysfunction in trauma-related disorders and (ii) psychological testing profiles in trauma-related disorders. We define trauma-related disorders as borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the dissociative disorders. Our search terms were dissociative disorders, temporal lobe, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, psychosis, and malingering.
Trauma-related psychotic-like symptoms are common and can differ in phenomenology from primary psychotic symptoms. Hallucinations consist of auditory and nonauditory content that may or may not relate to traumatic content. Child voices are highly suggestive of complex dissociative disorders. Critically, not only do these symptoms resemble those seen in temporal lobe epilepsy, but the temporal lobe is implicated in trauma-related disorders, thus providing a plausible neurobiological explanation. Despite such evidence, these symptoms are frequently considered atypical and misdiagnosed. Indeed, common structured psychological assessment tools categorize these symptoms as possible indicators of invalid testing profiles.
Psychotic-like symptoms are common in trauma-related disorders, may be related to temporal lobe dysfunction, and are frequently misinterpreted. This may lead to ineffective treatment and inappropriate determinations of malingering in the forensic system.