Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dysfunctional Families and Mental Disorders: A Large New Study

In February's Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol 67[2], 2010, pp. 113-123) there are two articles from the same study (Green et. al.; Mclaughlin et. al.) adding new "proof" to what we already know about how maladaptive family functioning (parental mental illness, parental substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic violence, physical and abuse sexual abuse, and neglect) are major risk factors for a host of mental disorders.

They do not even include personality disorders in the studies.

Really, the papers should have been published in one of my two favorite journals that specialize in papers that prove what any halfway-observant person already knows: Duh! and No ----, Sherlock.

There have been many earlier articles showing that certain types of family problems such as child sexual abuse are risk factors for certain disorders. Most of them show positive correlations.

These new studies upped the ante by looking at multiple forms of childhood adversity and many different disorders. (We already knew that these adversity types are pretty non-specific and are risk factors for many different disorders- this was confirmed in the new articles).

In the first article, in a survey of over 9200 subjects, the authors found that the different types of childhood adversities were highly correlated. This means that if you have been exposed to, say, domestic violence, the chances are excellent that you also have other adversities as well. Multiple adversities was the norm.

The higher the count, the more likely an individual was to have the various mental disorders that they looked at, although the increase in the strength of the association was smaller with each additional exposure.

By the way, the authors did not look at the severity of the traumas or how long they went on, which would be expected to be additional factors.

In the second article, maladaptive family functioning was also associated with the persistence of the individual mental disorders with which they correlated. This effect was NOT seen with other childhood adversities such as childhood financial adversity or parental divorce.

No comments:

Post a Comment