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Considering normal and abnormal together: The essence of developmental psychopathology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2008

L. Alan Sroufe
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota

Abstract

When psychopathology is defined as developmental deviation, its study necessarily involves a wedding of research on the normal and the pathological. In such an endeavor, understanding of normal processes is enhanced, because critical normative issues can only be defined in terms of their implications when development goes awry and because disordered behavior often brings into sharp relief the nature of basic developmental phenomena. At the same time, such work is critical to defining general principles of development, which apply to normal and abnormal alike. In this article, examples are provided of the reciprocally enhancing nature of studies of normal and pathological development and of the fruitfulness of weaving back and forth between studies of normality and disturbance for understanding important aspects of development. Examples include a discussion of attachment and dependency and the origins of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is concluded that developmental psychopathology may make its greatest contribution in the endeavor to understand development of individuals.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1990

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