Development and Psychopathology


A transdisciplinary perspective of chronic stress in relation to psychopathology throughout life span development

Robert-Paul Justera1a2 c1, Gustav Bizika3, Martin Picarda2, Genevieve Arsenault-Lapierrea1a2, Shireen Sindia1a2, Lyane Trepaniera1, Marie-France Marina1, Nathalie Wana1, Zoran Sekerovica1, Catherine Lorda1, Alexandra J. Fioccoa4, Pierrich Plusquelleca1a5, Bruce S. McEwena6 and Sonia J. Lupiena1

a1 University of Montreal

a2 McGill University

a3 Charles University

a4 Ryerson University

a5 University of Sherbrooke

a6 Rockefeller University


The allostatic load (AL) model represents an interdisciplinary approach to comprehensively conceptualize and quantify chronic stress in relation to pathologies throughout the life cycle. This article first reviews the AL model, followed by interactions among early adversity, genetics, environmental toxins, as well as distinctions among sex, gender, and sex hormones as integral antecedents of AL. We next explore perspectives on severe mental illness, dementia, and caregiving as unique human models of AL that merit future investigations in the field of developmental psychopathology. A complimenting transdisciplinary perspective is applied throughout, whereby we argue that the AL model goes beyond traditional stress–disease theories toward the advancement of person-centered research and practice that promote not only physical health but also mental health.

(Online publication July 15 2011)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Robert-Paul Juster, 7401 Hochelaga, McGill University, Louis Riel Pavilion, Unit 226, Room RI-2678, Montreal, QC H1N 3M5, Canada; E-mail:


We thank Catherine Juster for proofreading this manuscript and Ilse Langerak for her review of stress and divorce. This article is supported by a doctoral scholarship (to R.-P.J.) from the Aging Institute of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and to a Senior Investigator Chair from the Canadian Institute of Gender and Health (to S.L.).