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The development of psychopathology from infancy to adulthood: The mysterious unfolding of disturbance in time

Fonagy, P; (2001) The development of psychopathology from infancy to adulthood: The mysterious unfolding of disturbance in time. PSYCHIAT ENFANT , 44 (2) 333 - 369.

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Abstract

This paper aims to provide a heuristic for linking genetic predisposition, experiences in the first three years of life and psychological disturbance in later development. The author argues that the scientific case for sidelining the importance of parenting in general, and early attachment relationships in particular, tends to be based on inaccurate representations of behavioral genetics data. However, criticisms of socialization theory, such as attachment theory, are well grounded to the extent that past emphasis on the role of parenting seen merely in terms of relationship quality and the internalization of particular patterns of relationships may have been naive. It is argued that ear attachment relationships matter because the mental mechanism that moderates the expression of individual genotypes is intrinsically linked to the relationship with the primary caregiver. Evidence is marshaled for this proposition, from studies of gene-environment interactions involving attachment and three gene loci known to be involved in psychopathology. A model or the development of this mechanism is offered with supporting evidence. As part of this heuristic, a reconceptualization of attachment is tentatively proposed. While attachment in infancy has the primary evolutionary function of generating a mind capable of inferring and attributing causal motivational and epistemic mind states, and through these to arrive at a representation of the self in terms of a set of stable and generalized intentional attributes thus ensuring social collaboration, attachment in adulthood serves the evolutionary function of protecting the self representation from the impingements that social encounters inevitable create. Severe personality, pathology arises when the psychological mechanism of attachment is distorted or dysfunctional and cannot fulfill its biological function of preserving the intactness of self-representations.

Type: Article
Title: The development of psychopathology from infancy to adulthood: The mysterious unfolding of disturbance in time
Keywords: DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, NONHUMAN PRIMATE MODEL, ATTACHMENT, CHILDHOOD, FAMILY, ASSOCIATION, AGGRESSION, BEHAVIOR, GENE, POLYMORPHISM
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/133761
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