Developmental psychiatry comes of age

Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Jan;145(1):1-10. doi: 10.1176/ajp.145.1.1.


Although Meyer and Freud believed that the seeds of mental health are sown in childhood, systematic research has proved difficult and disappointing, and theory has remained intensely controversial. Research of the past two decades by developmental psychologists using an ethologically based theory of socioemotional bonds, however, is yielding findings that consistently confirm predictions. The author outlines this research, giving examples of the results, which are shown to be compatible with findings of epidemiological studies of depressed adults. He holds that a person's degree of vulnerability to stressors is strongly influenced by the development and current state of his or her intimate relationships.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child Psychiatry*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Ethology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Health
  • Object Attachment
  • Personality Development
  • Psychoanalytic Theory*