Parental 'affectionless control' as an antecedent to adult depression. A risk factor delineated

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983 Sep;40(9):956-60. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790080038005.


The view that depressives perceive themselves as having been exposed to an insufficiency of parental care and to parental overprotection was confirmed in a case-control study of 125 neurotic depressives, using a subjective measure of perceived parental characteristics, the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI). An interaction effect was noted, with the depressives scoring the same-sexed parent more deviantly. A discriminant analysis established that low parental care scale scores were the best discriminators, with raw care scores of less than 10 being highly sensitive in discriminating depressives from controls. Sixty-seven percent of the patients and 37% of the controls scored one or both parents to the "affectionless control" (low care--high protection) PBI quadrant, representing a relative risk of 3.4. It is concluded that the PBI delineates and quantifies a risk factor to certain grades of depressive experience.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Object Attachment
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Risk
  • Self Concept*