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Discussion: Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology

Discussion: Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology




Psychopathology involves the scientific study of mental conditions. Psychopathology helps in understanding how the mind of an individual works. There are various ways an individual may develop mental disorders; thus, the study of psychopathology helps understand how an individual develops mental disorders (Beauchaine, Constantino & Hayden, 2018). Psychopathology research seeks to present a better idea of how the various mental conditions need to be treated (Wright & Woods, 2020). Moreover, this study involves the study of mental illnesses and covers the treatment or diagnosis of mental illnesses. This paper will examine the factors that influence the development of psychopathology, including psychological, biological, social, interpersonal, and cultural factors.

Discussion: Factors That Influence the Development of Psychopathology

Biological Factors

The influence of biological factors on the development of psychopathology has been developed for some time. It is estimated that at least 40-70 percent of mental health disorders are linked to genetic factors (Ota et al., 2020). The clinician, therefore, needs to understand a patient’s family history of mental disorders to assist in treatment and diagnosis. For instance, gene expression has been found in various psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and an autism spectrum disorder.

Research shows a connection between epigenetics and neurobiology that impact the development of a psychiatric disorder (Shrivastava, De Sousa & Lodha, 2019). Epigenetic mechanisms including histone modification and DNA methylation tend to determine the gene activity. The mental disorders may also result from the alternation of the gene expression in pathways. The environment also affects gene expression.

Psychological Factors

Also, the development of psychopathology is influenced by psychological factors. Psychological factors that result from stress and life experiences risk an individual developing mental disorder. Moreover, individuals genetically vulnerable to certain mental disorders are likely to develop a psychiatric disorder due to negative thinking. Various internal psychological factors influence the development of psychopathology (Malim, 2017). For instance, the various parts of the brain are known to influence psychology. The limbic system regulates anxiety, fear, or emotional response linked to anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and depression. Moreover, the factors related to psychological development influence psychopathology. For example, puberty timing can result in depression among adolescents.

Social/ Cultural/ Interpersonal Factors

Various external factors such as social influence, interpersonal relationships, and culture impact the development of psychopathology. Pediatrics or adolescents exposed to external factors such as domestic violence and maltreatment are at an increased risk of developing various psychiatric conditions (McCrory, Gerin & Viding, 2017). Moreover, growing in an environment with limited economic resources may influence the development of psychopathology. Poor interpersonal relationships that result in isolation by peers may influence the development of psychopathology (Luyten, 2017). Different cultures have diverse views regarding the development of mental conditions (Moleiro, 2018). Cultural factors affect how an individual deals with certain mental illnesses (Cheung & Mak, 2018). For instance, in some cultures, mental illnesses may be linked to evil spirits. Moreover, some people such as the immigrant’s may suffer difficulty adapting to new cultures, which in turn contributes to the development of psychopathology.


In conclusion, psychopathology impacts how individuals react in real-life situations since the body is closely related to the mind. Psychopathology impacts the functioning of an individual’s mind. The study of psychopathology helps to understand how an individual develops various mental disorders. Understanding the development of psychopathology helps the medical practitioner develop a treatment plan and diagnosis of a patient. As a nurse practitioner, there is a need to consider the psychological, cultural, social, interpersonal, and biological factors that influence the development of psychopathology.

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Beauchaine, T. P., Constantino, J. N., & Hayden, E. P. (2018). Psychiatry and developmental psychopathology: Unifying themes and future directions. Comprehensive psychiatry87, 143-152.

Cheung, F. M., & Mak, W. W. (2018). Sociocultural factors in psychopathology.

Luyten, P. (2017). Personality, psychopathology, and health through the lens of interpersonal relatedness and self-definition. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 65(3), 473-489.

Malim, T. (2017). Introductory psychology. Macmillan International Higher Education.

McCrory, E. J., Gerin, M. I., & Viding, E. (2017). Annual research review: childhood maltreatment, latent vulnerability and the shift to preventative psychiatry–the contribution of functional brain imaging. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry58(4), 338-357.

Moleiro, C. (2018). Culture and psychopathology: New perspectives on research, practice, and clinical training in a globalized world. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 366.

Ota, V. K., Santoro, M. L., Spindola, L. M., Pan, P. M., Simabucuro, A., Xavier, G., … & Belangero, S. I. (2020). Gene expression changes associated with trajectories of psychopathology in a longitudinal cohort of children and adolescents. Translational psychiatry10(1), 1-9.

Shrivastava, A., De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2019). Resilience as a psychopathological construct for psychiatric disorders. In Frontiers in Psychiatry (pp. 479-489). Springer, Singapore.

Wright, A. G., & Woods, W. C. (2020). Personalized models of psychopathology. Annual review of clinical psychology, 16, 49-74.

In many realms of medicine, objective diagnoses can be made: A clavicula is broken.  An infection is present. TSH levels meet the diagnostic criteria for hypothyroidism. Psychiatry, on the other hand, deals with psychological phenomena and behaviors. Can these, too, be “defined objectively and by scientific criteria (Gergen, 1985), or are they social constructions?” (Sadock et al., 2015).

Psychopathology is defined by Merriam-Webster, 2020 as “the study of psychological and behavioral dysfunction occurring in mental illness or social disorganization.”  The purpose of this discussion is to explain the biological, psychological, social, cultural, and interpersonal factors that influence the development of psychopathology.

There is much activity regarding research being completed on how genetics and neuroscience may relate to mental illnesses in people.  A recent study by Allegrini et al., (2020) discusses the “p factor” and how “diverse behavior problems in childhood were consistently correlated phenotypically and genetically…the p factor is substantially heritable (50-60%) and manifests consistently…”(p. 34).  This study included 7,206 twin pairs from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) and included a diverse measure of behavior problems rated by the child, parent, and teacher at ages 7, 9, 12, and 16 (depressive traits, emotional problems, peer problems, autism traits, hyperactivity, antisocial behavior, conduct problems, and psychopathic tendencies).  Another study completed by Homan et al., (2019) reports, “mothers diagnosed with any psychiatric disorder, especially a depressive or adjustment disorder, before the child’s birth are at increased risk to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)…Mothers of children with ADHD, without the psychiatric disorder, before birth, are at increased risk to develop any psychiatric disorder, especially a depressive or adjustment disorder after the birth of a child” (p.1049).  Both studies show how biology, including genetics and neuroscience, plays a part in psychopathology.

Jean Piaget developed the cognitive development stages which indicate one cannot move to the next without completion of the previous stage.  From Piaget’s work, Susan Harter developed intervention techniques using conflicting emotions and Aaron Beck developed a school of cognitive therapy that uses the role of cognition in causing or maintaining psychopathology.  The attachment theory by Bowlby stated that skin-to-skin contact with mom and baby immediately after birth was required for bonding to take place (Sadock et al., 2015).   This is now something that is done immediately after giving birth on a routine basis.  A study by Liu et al., (2019) revealed, “…emotional distress…significant indirect effects of unmet psychosocial concerns, motivation, and medication side effects on emotional distress and physical/mental quality of life (QOL) impairment in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia” (p. 1031-1032).  All these examples show how psychological factors such as behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and developmental processes play a part in psychopathology.

A study by Oliver-Parra et al., (2020) reports, “Developmental psychopathology includes consideration of sex differences and, especially differences in the socialization of males and females.  Examples:  childhood:  higher prevalence of conduct disorder among boys than girls; adolescence:  girls have a much higher prevalence of depression and eating disorders than boys, while boys present with more anger problems and high-risk behaviors.  Anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders have an earlier onset than substance use disorders and mood disorders.  There are also gender differences in the age of onset of severe mental disorders, men typically having an earlier onset of schizophrenia and women are more likely to have serious forms of bipolar depression” (p. 2).  “Genetic susceptibility and environmental exposure play an important role in the development of Mental Disorders (MD).  Low socioeconomic status (SES) was associated with increased odds of children’s MD.  Offspring of a parent with MD were at more risk of presenting MD than offspring of parents without these problems.  The mothers SES and MD showed a higher association with the offspring’s MDs than the fathers” (p. 12).  A study by Franklin (2019) reports, “the primitive-based approach accounts for biopsychosocial complexity, ties clinical science more directly to basic psychological science, and could facilitate progress in understanding, predicting and preventing psychopathology” (p. 7).  A study by Sypher et al., (2019) reports, “low levels of positive parenting and higher levels of harsh parenting predicted greater child endorsement of dominance and revenge goals…exposure to indirect and direct violence was associated with greater endorsement of avoidance goals, with some indication that exposure to indirect violence also was related to increased revenge and dominance goals” (p. 1007).  These studies show how social, cultural, and interpersonal factors influence the development of psychopathology.

In conclusion, I have discussed the biological, psychological, social, cultural ad interpersonal factors influencing psychopathology.


Allegrini, A. G., Cheesman, R., Rimfeld, K., Selzam, S., Pingault, J. B., Eley, T. C., & Plomin, R. (2019). The p factor: genetic analyses support a general dimension of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(1), 30–39. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13113

Franklin, J. C. (2019). Psychological primitives can make sense of biopsychosocial factor complexity in psychopathology. BMC Medicine, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1435-1

Homan, K. J., Barbaresi, W. J., Mellon, M. W., Weaver, A. L., Killian, J. M., Lucchetti, A. R., & Katusic, S. K. (2019). Psychiatric Disorders in Mothers of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Population-Based Perspective. Journal of Child & Family Studies28(4), 1042–1051. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01334-7

Liu, J., Abdin, E., Verma, S., Sim, K., Chong, S. A., & Subramaniam, M. (2019). Clarifying pathways to poor psychological health: The mediating role of psychosocial factors in the relationship between general psychopathology and quality of life impairment in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75(6), 1022–1033. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22747

Merriam-Webster. (2021). Psychopathology. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychopathology.

Oliver-Parra, A., Dalmau-Bueno, A., Ruiz-Muñoz, D., & García-Altés, A. (2020). Relationship between parents’ mental disorders and socioeconomic status and offspring’s psychopathology: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 15(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0240681

Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (2015). Kaplan & Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry (11th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Sypher, I., Hyde, L. W., Peckins, M. K., Waller, R., Klump, K., & Alexandra Burt, S. (2019). Effects of Parenting and Community Violence on Aggression-Related Social Goals: a Monozygotic Twin Differences Study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47(6), 1001–1012. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-018-0506-7


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