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The promise of developmental psychopathology: Past and present

  • L. Alan Sroufe (a1)

Progress in the field of developmental psychopathology is appraised in general and with regard to the particular lens of our understanding of the development of disorder. In general, the outpouring of research on various features of disorder and underlying processes could not have even been imagined 25 years ago. The progress is dazzling. At the same time, work on the development of disorders, beginning with antecedent patterns of adaptation, pales in comparison with work on the correlates of disorder. However, progress has been made. It is well established that the brain develops in the context of experience and that organism and environment continually interact over time. Something is now known about pathways leading to certain disorders and what initiates and impels individuals along them. If developmental psychopathology is to completely fulfill its promise of offering new ways of conceptualizing disorder and new guidance for prevention and intervention, much more work on developmental processes and a new way of exploring the development of disorder will be needed. Such a path is suggested.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: L. Alan Sroufe, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55419; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
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