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Keywords:

  • continuity and discontinuity;
  • developmental psychopathology;
  • violence from infancy to adulthood

Abstract

Introduction

 Psychiatric disorders can start at a very young age, though prevalence of specific disorders change over time. Consequently, any study of continuities and discontinuities should start in infancy, and core concepts of developmental psychopathology are useful for understanding the data. Violence is a major societal problem, while the most effective intervention is to prevent the developmental, normative aggression in very early childhood, from turning into conduct disorders and antisocial personality disorders later in life. The aims of this study were to apply the core concepts of developmental psychopathology to the understanding of the data about how developmental aggression in infancy may turn into pathological violence and conduct disorders in childhood and then into psychopathology in adulthood.

Methods

 Selective computerized review of the literature examining longitudinal studies of aggression and violence from infancy to adulthood was conducted.

Results

 Pathways of continuity and discontinuity of aggression and violence were identified from infancy into adulthood. Early care-giving quality is a major contributor to the outcomes, but additional risk and protective factors are in a dynamic and complex interplay. The longer a pathway is pursued, the more difficult change becomes.

Discussion

 Intervention programs aimed at reducing violence among individuals and societies should target risk and protective factors, at least as much as the symptoms.