The transmission of psychopathology from parents to offspring: Development and treatment in context

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1 Scopus citations


In summary, the findings reported by Loukas et al. have farreaching implications for the study, prevention, and treatment of antisocial behavior in children and families. Their findings underscore the importance of acknowledging ecological stressors as an important contributor to family dysfunction and to the genesis and transmission of problem behaviors. The results of their study also remind us that, in families with severe antisocial tendencies, children begin to display externalizing problems at early ages, possibly in part because of genetic transmission of antisocial personality disorder. These findings can, and should, be utilized to guide practitioners in treating child behavior problems. First, the family should be involved, especially in cases where the behavior problems are clearly tied to deficits in family functioning. Second, and just as important, the family's ecosystem should be involved in treatment as well; embeddedness in a stressful environment often underlies maladaptive family functioning. In order for the maladaptive family interactions to improve, the effects of ecological stressors need to be diminished, if not neutralized altogether. We hope that the emphasis on the familial and ecological contexts advocated in the Loukas et al. paper, and elsewhere, will prompt the treatment and prevention communities to continue the shift from a "bad seed" approach, in which the child is held responsible for his or her inability to behave appropriately, to a contextual perspective in which treatment is applied to all the systems to which the child belongs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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