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Keywords:

  • Dysfunction;
  • developmental psychopathology;
  • childhood psychopathology;
  • methodology;
  • models;
  • children;
  • adolescents

The central thesis of this article Is that several premises and strategies that guide research on psychopathology in children and adolescents greatly limit our understanding of the characteristics, onset, and course of functioning and adaptation. Specifically, the article questions the assumption of single pathways of dysfunction, the focus on main effects and linear relations, the preference for analyzing psychological dimensions rather than categories of individuals, lack of attention to “packages” or clusters of influences and outcomes and to their dynamic relations, and, finally, indifference to the sources of information for assessing major constructs. The strategies that will augment understanding include: more diverse sources of information, aggregation of risk factors, analyses within individuals as well as within groups, models based on changes during development, and, finally, inquiry Into the processes that mediate psychopathology.