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Child Abuse Negl. 1983;7(4):459-69.

The developmental consequence of different patterns of maltreatment.


From a longitudinal study of 267 high risk families, four different patterns of maltreatment were identified. The mothers have been tested, interviewed and observed in a number of situations starting during the last trimester of pregnancy and continuing at regularly scheduled intervals through the preschool period. The four maltreatment groups were: physical abuse; hostile/verbally abusive; psychologically unavailable; and neglecting. A control group of mothers who provided adequate care was selected from the remaining high risk sample. In an earlier follow-up, among the maltreated children a disproportionately large number of infants were found to be anxiously attached to their mothers at 12 and 18 months, and their performance in a problem-solving situation at age two was poor. In the current follow-up, the children were videotaped at 42 months in a "barrier box" and teaching situation, and at 56 months they were observed in a preschool situation. The physically abused children were distractible, lacked persistence, ego control and enthusiasm, and experienced considerable negative emotion. The children whose mothers were psychologically unavailable showed marked increases in maladaptive patterns of functioning from infancy through preschool. As expected, they were avoidant of their mother, angry, noncompliant, and they were highly dependent. The neglected children had the most difficulty pulling themselves together to deal with various tasks. They lacked self-esteem and agency necessary to cope with their environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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