Development and Psychopathology


Conduct and affective disorders in developmental perspective: A systematic study of adolescent psychopathology

Gil G. Noama1 c1, Katherine Pageta1, Gayle Valiantaa1, Sophie Borsta1 and John Bartoka1

a1 Laboratory of Developmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology, Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital


This study examined the relationship of psychiatric diagnoses to gender, IQ, and ego development level in an inpatient sample of 269 adolescents. It was found that adolescents with an affective disorder diagnosis, in contrast to those with a diagnosis of conduct or mixed affective-conduct disorder, were more likely to (a) be female, (b) have higher IQ scores, and (c) have higher ego development levels. No significant age differences were found between groups. Comparisons between the single diagnosis and mixed disorder groups indicated that the mixed disorder group is characterized by the most severe symptoms found in each of the pure affective and conduct disordered groups. A relationship between type of DSM-III diagnosis and ego development level in adolescence was demonstrated after controlling for the effects of age, gender, and IQ. These results are offered as an explication of the developmental dimensions inherent in DSM-III psychiatric diagnoses.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Gil Noam, Laboratory of Developmental Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02178.