Development and Psychopathology

Reflecting on the Past and Planning for the Future of Developmental Psychopathology

Developmental psychopathology: Concepts and challenges

a1 University of London
a2 University of Minnesota


The defining features of developmental psychopathology concepts include attention to the understanding of causal processes, appreciation of the role of developmental mechanisms, and consideration of continuities and discontinuities between normality and psychopathology. Accomplishments with respect to these issues are reviewed in relation to attachment disorders, antisocial behavior, autism, depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and intellectual development. Major research challenges remain in relation to measurement issues, comorbidity, gender differences, cognitive processing, nature–nurture interplay, heterotypic continuity, continuities between normal variations and disorders, developmental programming, and therapeutic mechanisms in effective treatments.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Prof. Sir Michael Rutter, Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK.