Findings are presented on 42 children of school age, the offspring of 26 adult psychiatric patients. Psychiatric disorder was found in 19 (45 per cent) of the children, compared with 12 (26 per cent) of 47 children from a control group of families.
Families with disturbed children differed from the remaining families in the following ways: presence of frank marital discord, the diagnosis of personality disorder in the parents, the inability of the father to tolerate angry situations, and the presence of siblings of under 9 years of age. Six months later, 9 of the 19 children had improved considerably. In almost every family this was associated with improvement in the condition of the parents.
It is suggested that the psychiatric disorder of these children is reactive to the presence of emotional turmoil in the families.