Endorphin activity in childhood psychosis. Spinal fluid levels in 24 cases

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985 Aug;42(8):780-3. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790310042005.


Twenty 2- to 13-year-old infantile autistic children (16 boys and four girls) and four 4- to 13-year-old children (two boys and two girls) with other kinds of childhood psychoses were compared with eight 6-month-old to 6-year-old normal children with regard to cerebrospinal fluid contents of endorphin fractions I and II. The psychosis groups showed higher mean cerebrospinal fluid endorphin fraction II levels, and 11 (55%) of the 20 autistic patients showed values higher than the highest in the group of normal children. There was a trend toward a correlation between high fraction II levels and self-destructiveness and decreased pain sensibility in the psychotic children. The results are regarded as preliminary but as warranting further research in this potentially fruitful field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endorphins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Self Mutilation / diagnosis
  • Sensory Thresholds


  • Endorphins