Life-Span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology

Life-Span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology

Life-Span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology

Life-Span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology

Excerpt

Introduction: The Prediction of Psychopathology Across The Life-Span: The Value of Longitudinal Research

Nancy E. Miller

THE MARRIAGE OF SUBSTANTIVE SIGNIFICANCE WITH METHODOLOGICAL RIGOR IN CLINICAL LONGITUDINAL RESEARCH

This volume stands as a tribute to those investigators who are courageous enough, persistent enough, long-lived enough, and some might say misguided enough, to embark on the tantalizing, yet arduous -- ever treacherous -- search for clues to the origins and development of mental disorder, by virtue of systematically following the unfolding of individual lives over time.

The empirical studies included in this volume are concerned with psychopathology and its prediction across the total life-span. In their focus on development, the studies range in scope from emphases on prenatal determinants and early childhood predictors, to the consideration of biological, behavioral, and cognitive variables across the span of adolescence and adulthood, culminating in the farthest reaches of old age. Many varieties of functional and organic mental illness are encompassed, including, for example, the spectrum of schizophrenic disorders, the major and minor affective illnesses, disorders of sexual identity, as well as progressive and irreversible diseases of the brain, among others.

This book can also be viewed from another perspective. If read more closely for the nuances of its subtext, it provides a functional barometer of the strains, tensions, and challenges that represent the current growth and development of the field itself: These struggles reflect disparities between the demands of methodological rigor and the constraints of the practical research world. Whereas differences in viewpoint are not unique to longitudinal work, they have become increasingly apparent in recent years, as the study of psychopathology over time . . .

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