Development and Psychopathology

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

Developmental systems and psychopathology

a1 Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan


Efforts to understand the etiology of adult mental disorders by studying children has produced unanticipated changes in our understanding of pathology, individual development, and the role of social context. Among these are the blurring of the division between mental illness and mental health, the need to attend to patterns of adaptation rather than personality traits, and the powerful influences of the social world on individual development. Current developmental views place deviancy in the dynamic relation between individuals and their contexts. At another level, when we view the history of developmental psychopathology, dialectical developmental processes are evident as we trace how patterns of adaptation of researchers, expressed in theoretical models and empirical paradigms, increasingly have come to match the complexities of human mental health and illness.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Arnold Sameroff, PhD, Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, 300 N. Ingalls Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0406;