Of all the approaches still employed in modern psychology and psychiatry, the psychodynamic approach is the oldest. Sigmund Freud (writing from the 1890s to 1930s) developed this approach. From the outset, his work was oriented towards providing psychological therapy for people suffering mental disorder. Freud proposed that many cases of mental disorder were rooted in childhood experiences, in particular traumatic events and poor-quality family relationships.
Today we are much more aware of other factors affecting mental disorder, for example genetic variations. However, there is consider-able evidence to support a role for early experience in leaving some people particularly vulnerable to mental disorder. In a prospective study, Massie and Sjanberg (2002) followed 76 people from infancy up to 30 years of age, noting quality of attachments, traumatic life events and mental disorder. It was found that both childhood trauma and poor-quality attachment to parents were associated with higher probability of having suffered a mental disorder by the age of 30.
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