Family and Psychopathology

Psychopathology refers to an abnormality,
dysfunction, mental illness, or family psycho-
pathology manifested in terms of behavioral,
interpersonal, emotional, cognitive and psycho-
physiological functioning. Mental illness is a term
that is largely synonymous with psychopathology,
although it carries the implication that the unusual
or aberrant patterns of functioning seen in these
conditions reflect some form of disease or illness.
Family psychopathology implies various risk
situations (e.g. dysfunctional family structure,
dysfunctional family functioning, faulty family
relationship and communication patterns, etc) which have impact on mental health. In another words, it can be said that when the pathological life of the family creates problems in the equilibrium (balance) of the family environment, it is called as family pathology. Family psychopathology represents a particular risk in the immediate postpartum period, especially if family members suffer from bipolar affective disorder compared to other diagnostic groups2.

Causative Role of The Family

Mental disorders do not occur in a vacuum, they develop in a family setup with family dynamics playing causative role5. In following areas family plays crucial role in the development of psycho- pathology:


Faulty Parent Child Relationship :

Several types of specific parent child patterns appear with great regularity in children who show emotional disturbances. Some of these patterns are:

(a) Rejection: Rejection is manifested through physical neglect, denial of love and affection, lack of interest in the child’s activities and achievements, failure to spend time with the child and lack of respect for the child’s right and feeling as a person. In few cases, it also involves cruel and abusive treatment. It shows that parental rejection tends to foster low self – esteem, feeling of insecurity and inadequacy, retarded conscience and general intellectual development, increased aggression, lovelessness and inability to give and receive love. Cold and rejecting mothers report persistent bed-wetting, aggressiveness, slow conscience develop- ment in their children6. Parental rejection is associated with diminished intelligence during the early school years, discourage- ment and general inhibiting and suppress- ing effect on child’s intellectual develop- ment and functioning7. Parental rejection is a key factor amongst children suffering from excessive fear 8.

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