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Understanding risk and building mental health resilience after childhood psychological trauma: focus on the subjective experience


Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

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Prof A Danese No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Childhood trauma is a key modifiable risk factor for psychopathology throughout the life-course. It is, therefore, essential to understand how childhood trauma brings about mental illness and how to prevent or minimise this detrimental effect. Recent research has shown that, like for traumatic experiences later in life, risk of psychopathology is linked more closely to the subjective experience of traumatised children than their actual exposure: adult participants in long-term longitudinal studies who retrospectively recall childhood trauma are at elevated risk of mental illness regardless of whether there was prospective evidence of their traumatic experiences during assessments in childhood years; in contrast, children with documented traumatic experiences are at elevated risk of mental illness only when they retrospectively recall trauma in adulthood. The proposed research project aims to understand why psychopathology emerges as a function of subjective rather than objective experience of childhood maltreatment. We will capitalise on two rare cohort studies that have followed children from birth into adult life and have measured both actual experience of trauma in childhood years and adult subjective recall of childhood experiences. From the rich datasets and notes, we will identify factors that differentiate participants who do or do not subjectively recall childhood trauma in the context of actual childhood experiences, for example investigating their personality, personal relationships, and attitudes about themselves and others. The factors identified will point to potential targets for the development of new psychological interventions to prevent or minimise mental illness associated with childhood trauma. 

Entry requirements 

Applicants should have a Bachelors degree in Psychology or related subjects with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). An MSc is preferred. 

  Further information 

About the IoPPN: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/about/index.aspx 

Studying at the IoPPN: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/study/index.aspx 

Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/psychology-systems-sciences/about/departments/social-genetic-and-developmental-psychiatry 

Danese Lab: Stress & Development: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/danese-lab 

 

How to apply 

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT), 7 March 2021. 

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select ‘Research degrees’ and enter the keyword “Social Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MPhil/PhD” (Full-time).

 

In your application, you will be asked to include: 

 

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application 
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies) 
  • Details of previous employment 
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box. 
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on his/her referees to submit a reference directly to the College after he/she has submitted his/her admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline. 

 

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: AD-MHRUK-21 

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set. 

You are welcome to email Professor Andrea Danese (supervisor) at [Email Address Removed] for more information regarding the project and studentship. 

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Education Support Team at [Email Address Removed].  

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible. 

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. The studentship will commence October 2021.


Funding Notes

Fully funded for 4 years full-time plus a stipend. The stipend will be based on the Medical Research Council’s minimum stipend and fees for UK students. The fourth year is regarded as a writing-up year and the grant will be the stipend and thesis fee only. This studentship is open to Home applicants only.


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