The role of parental disciplinary practices in the development of depression and alcoholism

Psychiatry. 1988 Feb;51(1):24-36. doi: 10.1080/00332747.1988.11024377.


Awareness of child abuse has been growing over the past several decades as more cases have come to the attention of medical personnel and school and police authorities. Information-gathering systems have become more effective, and the long-term deleterious effects of abusive treatment have been brought into focus (American Humane Association 1981; Strauss et al. 1980). Cases which come to the attention of the authorities probably represent only the most blatant and severe instances of abuse. However, since Kempke and colleagues (1962) originally described the "battered child syndrome," descriptions of child abuse have been broadened to include maltreatment other than physical abuse resulting in injury (Martinez-Roig et al. 1983; Smith and Hanson 1974; Wolff 1981). Indeed, Strauss and colleagues contend that even mild forms of physical punishment should be considered abusive because they would be illegal if directed toward adults or strangers. The current paper examines retrospectively the relationship between disciplinary practices experienced in childhood, both mild and severe, and the experience of major depressive episodes and alcoholism in adulthood in a general population sample, in whom disorder tends to be untreated and mild.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Child Rearing*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology
  • Punishment*
  • Social Class