Psychiatry and developmental psychopathology: Unifying themes and future directions

Theodore P. Beauchaine, John N. Constantino, Elizabeth P. Hayden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In the past 35 years, developmental psychopathology has grown into a flourishing discipline that shares a scientific agenda with contemporary psychiatry. In this editorial, which introduces the special issue, we describe the history of developmental psychopathology, including core principles that bridge allied disciplines. These include (1) emphasis on interdisciplinary research, (2) elucidation of multicausal pathways to seemingly single disorders (phenocopies), (3) description of divergent multifinal outcomes from common etiological start points (pathoplasticity), and (4) research conducted across multiple levels of analysis spanning genes to environments. Next, we discuss neurodevelopmental models of psychopathology, and provide selected examples. We emphasize differential neuromaturation of subcortical and cortical neural networks and connectivity, and how both acute and protracted environmental insults can compromise neural structure and function. To date, developmental psychopathology has placed greater emphasis than psychiatry on neuromaturational models of mental illness. However, this gap is closing rapidly as advances in technology render etiopathophysiologies of psychopathology more interrogable. We end with suggestions for future interdisciplinary research, including the need to evaluate measurement invariance across development, and to construct more valid assessment methods where indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Equifinality
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Multifinality
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Psychiatry


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