September 1963

Childhood Bereavement and Adult Depression

Author Affiliations


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(3):295-302. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720150105011

The association of early parental deprivation with the subsequent development of psychopathology has been reported by a large number of authors.1 The systematic studies published prior to 1958 have been well summarized in a critical review by Gregory, who focused particularly on the sources of error in these studies.2 Brown3 recently reported a significant relationship between parental loss in childhood and adult depression. He found that 41% of 216 depressed adult patients had lost a parent through death before the age of 15; this incidence was found to be significantly greater than the incidence of orphanhood in the general population in England (12%) and in a comparison group of 267 medical patients (19.6%).

The previous studies of orphanhood and psychopathology had certain methodological limitations which pose difficulties in evaluating the obtained relationships. First, when the isolation of the criterion group depends

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