Depression and Aggression in Family Interaction

By Gerald R. Patterson | Go to book overview

9
Initiation and Maintenance of Process Disrupting Single- Mother Families

G. R. Patterson

M. S. Forgatch

Oregon Social Learning Center

This report describes a deviancy-generating process that is often set into motion during the first year of marital separation. For some families, the process continues to unfold over time. Although this process produces increased deviancy for both mothers and their children, the present report is focused primarily on how the process influences the mothers.

In part, this report is highly speculative. The original intent was to present a formulation that could be tested by a longitudinal study designed specifically to test it. The resulting study involved repeated assessment of a sample of single mothers during their first year or two of separation. However, certain limitations in the data set made it impossible to test some crucial aspects of the original formulation. These oversights have been corrected for the new wave of data currently being collected for this sample ( Forgatch, 1987). This report outlines the formulation and summarizes the data analyzed thus far.

We can assume that some mothers are more at risk than others for becoming involved in the initiation of the deviancy process. Our findings suggest that massive increases in stress and equally massive losses in social support networks are apparently two of the key factors that start the process. Data are presented that examine this hypothesis. It is also hypothesized that certain personality traits put some mothers at greater risk for experiencing the increased stress and loss of support as disrupting factors.

A formulation about process requires several very different kinds of information. It requires descriptive information about both stability and change. For example, the present formulation emphasizes changes in variables such as maternal stress, irritability, support, and depression. Descriptive information is provided describing shifts in mean levels for the indicators for these variables. The

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