Depression and Reaction to Loss
It has only been within the last 20 years that there has been a general recognition of the existence of depression in prepubertal children, much less in preschoolers. The reasons for this failure to acknowledge the presence of major affective disturbances in young children are multiple. One factor is the earlier pervasive influence of psychoanalytic theory. Freud (1917) viewed depression as the inward turning of aggressive impulses resulting from object loss, and psychoanalytic theorists did not believe that children possessed sufficiently developed superegos, or stable enough self-concepts, to engage in this process and truly experience depression. Children were acknowledged to experience transient sadness, but this was viewed as trivial and qualitatively different from adult depression. Additional problems contributing to the failure to seriously consider the existence of depression in young children were the absence of adequate assessment instruments for that age group, and the difficulty obtaining and interpreting verbal self-reports from preschoolers.
KeywordsPreschool Child Depressive Symptomatology Childhood Depression Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory Dysthymic Disorder
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