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August 1964

Study of Parental Loss in Neurotics and Sociopaths

Author Affiliations


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(2):177-180. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720260071009

Although current psychiatric opinion strongly favors the view that childhood environment plays an important role in subsequent personality development, there is surprisingly little objective evidence for any causal linkage between early experience and adult vulnerability.2 The relatively few actuarial studies in the literature have yielded conflicting results. An association between parental deprivation in childhood and adult neurosis, for example, has been reported by several authors,3,4,8,9 but other workers,7,10, 12,13 have been unable to substantiate these findings. Cited incidence figures for parental deprivation are often not comparable as these are based on widely differing patient samples and refer to diverse situations such as parental death only, prolonged separation from any cause, or an intact home disturbed by parental discord, mental illness, and other factors.

In a detailed, critical review of the literature, Gregory6 summarized the present state of knowledge in this