The Transmission of Incompetence

The Offspring of Mentally Ill Women
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
  • Ronald Seifer
Part of the Genesis of Behavior book series (GOBE, volume 3)


The ways in which parents influence the development of their children are many, some quite obvious and direct, others quite subtle and elusive. Socialization and educational practices produce the diversity of human cultural differences in fairly straightforward ways. However, the transmission of the individual differences which characterize mental illness is far from clear.


Peabody Picture Vocabulary Schizophrenic Group Foster Placement Psychiatric Contact Newborn Offspring 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brazelton, T. B. Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. London: Heinemann, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Buck, C. W., & Laughton, K. B. Family patterns of illness: The effect of psychoneurosis in the parent upon illness in the child. Acta Psychiatrica et Neurologica Scandinavica, 1959, 34, 165–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohler, B. H., Grunebaum, H. U., Weiss, J. L., Gamer, E., & Gallant, D. A. Disturbance of attention among schizophrenic, depressed and well mothers and their young children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1977, 18, 115–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cooper, S. F., Leach, C., Storer, D., & Tonge, W. L. The children of psychiatric patients: Clinical findings. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1977, 131, 514–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Erikson, E. H. Childhood and society (2nd Ed). New York: Norton, 1963.Google Scholar
  6. Erlenmeyer-Kimling, L., & Cornblatt, B. Attentional measures in a study of children at high-risk for schizophrenia. In L. C. Wynne, R. L. Cromwell, & S. Mathysse (Eds.), The nature of schizophrenia: New approaches to research & treatment. New York: Wiley, 1978.Google Scholar
  7. Field, T. M. Effects of early separation, interactive deficits, and experimental manipulations on infant–mother face-to-face stimulation. Child Development, 1977, 48, 763–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fish, B., Shapiro, T., Halpern, F., & Wile, R. The predication of schizophrenia in infancy: III. A ten-year follow-up report of neurological and psychological development. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1965, 121, 768–775.Google Scholar
  9. Fox, B. A. Socioeconomic status, psychopathology, and socialization. Unpublished master’s dissertation, University of Rochester, 1975.Google Scholar
  10. Garmezy, N. Children at risk: The search for the antecedents of schizophrenia. Part II: Ongoing research programs, issues, and intervention. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 1974, No. 9, 55–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Garmezy, N. Attentional processes in adult schizophrenia and in children at risk. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1978, 14, 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gottesman, I. I., & Shields, J. Schizophrenia in twins: 16 years’ consecutive admissions to a psychiatric clinic. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1966, 112, 809–813.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hanson, D. R., Gottesman, I. I., & Heston, L. L. Some possible childhood indicators of adult schizophrenia inferred from children of schizophrenics. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1976, 129, 142–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hanson, D. R., Gottesman, I. I., & Meehl, P. H. Genetic theories and the validation of psychiatric diagnosis: Implications for the study of children of schizophrenics. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1977, 86(86), 575–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heston, L. L. Psychiatric disorders in foster home reared children of schizophrenic mothers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1966, 112, 819–825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Higgins, J. Effects of child rearing by schizophrenic mothers: A follow up. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1976, 13, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Itil, T. M., Hsu, M., Saletu, B., & Mednick, S. Computer EEG and auditory evoked potential investigations in children at high risk for schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1974, 131, 892–900.Google Scholar
  18. Jackson, D. D. The etiology of schizophrenia. New York: Basic Books, 1960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Janes, C. L., Hesselbrock, V., & Stern, J. A. Parental psychopathology, age, and race as related to electrodermal activity of children. Psychophysiology, 1978, 15, 24–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jensen, A. R. Educability and group differences. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.Google Scholar
  21. Jones, F. H. The Rochester adaptive behavior inventory: A parallel serves as instruments for assessing social competence during early and middle childhood and adolescence. In J. Strauss, H. Babigian, & M. Roff (Eds.), The origins and course of psychopathology: Methods for longitudinal research. New York: Plenum, 1977.Google Scholar
  22. Kallmann, F. J. The genetics of schizophrenia. New York: J. J. Augustin, 1938.Google Scholar
  23. Kallmann, F. J. The genetic theory of schizophrenia: An analysis of 691 schizophrenic twin index families. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1946, 103, 309–322.Google Scholar
  24. Kety, S. S., Rosenthal, D., Wender, P. H., Schulsinger, F., & Jacobson, B. Mental illness in the biological and adoptive families who have become schizophenic: A preliminary report based on psychiatric interviews. In R. R. Fieve, D. Rosenthal, & H. Brill (Eds.), Genetic research in psychiatry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  25. Kringlen, E. Twins—still our best method. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 1976, 2, 429–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Laing, R. D., & Esterson, A. Sanity, madness, and the family. New York: Basic Books, 1964.Google Scholar
  27. Landau, R., Harth, P., Othnay, N., & Sharfhertz, C. The influence of psychotic parents on their children’s development. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1972, 129(1), 38–43Google Scholar
  28. Lidz, T. The origin and treatment of schizophrenic disorders. New York: Basic Books, 1973Google Scholar
  29. McNeil, T. F., & Kaij, L. Obstetric complications and physical size of offspring of schizophrenic, schizophrenic-like, and control mothers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 1973, 123, 341–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McNeil, T. F., & Kaij, L. Obstetric factors in the development of schizophrenia. Complications in the births of preschizophrenics and in reproduction by schizophrenic parents. In L. C. Wynne, R. L. Cromwell, & S. Mathysse, (Eds.), The nature of schizophrenia: New approaches to research & treatment. New York: Wiley, 1978.Google Scholar
  31. Mednick, S. A., & McNeil, T. F. Current methodology in research on the etiology of schizophrenia: Serious difficulties which suggest the use of high-risk-group method. Psychological Bulletin, 1968, 70 (6), 681–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mednick, S. A., & Schulsinger, F. Some premorbid characteristics related to breakdown in children with schizophrenic mothers. In D. Rosenthal, & S. S. Kety (Eds.), The transmission of schizophrenia. Oxford: Pergamon Press Ltd., 1968, pp. 267–291.Google Scholar
  33. Mednick, S. A., & Schulsinger, F. Factors related to breakdown in children at high risk for schizophrenia. In M. Roff & D. F. Ricks (Eds.), Life history research in psychopathology (Vol. 1). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1970, pp. 51–93.Google Scholar
  34. Mednick, S. A., Mura, E., Schulsinger, F., & Mednick, B. Perinatal conditions and infant development in children with schizophrenic parents. Social Biology, 1971, 8, 5103–5113.Google Scholar
  35. Reisby, N. Psychoses in children of schizophrenic mothers. Acta Psychiatrica et Neurologica Scandanavica, 1967, 43, 8–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rieder, R. O., Broman, S. H., & Rosenthal, D. The offspring of schizophrenics. II: Perinatal factors and I. Q. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1977, 34, 789–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rolf, J. E. The social and academic competence of children vulnerable to schizophrenia and other behavior pathologies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1972, 80(3), 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rolf, J. E., & Garmezy, N. The school performance of children vulnerable to psychopathology. In D. F. Ricks, A. Thomas, & M. Roff (Eds.) Life history research in psychopathology (Vol. 3). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  39. Rosenthal, D. Problems of sampling and diagnosis in the major twin studies of schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1962, 1, 116–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rosenthal, D. Genetic theory and abnormal behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970Google Scholar
  41. Rosenthal, D., Wender, P. H., Kety, S. S., Welner, J., & Schulsinger, F. The adopted-away offspring of schizophrenics. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1971, 128(3), 87–91Google Scholar
  42. Sameroff, A. J. Early influences on development: Fact or fancy? Merrill—Palmer Quarterly, 1975, 21, 267–294.Google Scholar
  43. Sameroff, A. J., & Zax, M. Perinatal characteristics of offspring of schizophrenic women. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 1973a, 157, 191–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sameroff, A. J., & Zax, M. Schizotaxia revisited: Model issues in the etiology of schizophrenia. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1973b, 43, 744–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schachter, J., Kerr, J., Lachin, J. M., & Faer, M. Newborn offspring of a schizophrenic parent: Cardiac reactivity to auditory stimuli. Psychophysiology, 1975, 12, 483–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Weintraub, S., Neale, J. M., & Leibert, D. C. Teacher ratings of children vulnerable to psychopathology. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1975, 45 (5), 838–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wender, P. H. Minimal brain dysfunction in children. New York: Wiley, 1971.Google Scholar
  48. Wender, P. H., Rosenthal, D., Kety, S. S., Schulsinger, F., & Weiner, J. Cross-fostering: A research strategy in clarifying the role of genetic and experiential factors in the etiology of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1974, 30, 121–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Worland, J., Lander, H., & Hesselbrock, V. Psychological evaluation of clinical disturb-ance in children at risk for psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1979, 88(1), 13–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wynne, L. C., & Singer, M. T. Thought disorder and family relations of schizophrenics. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1963, 9, 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zigler, E., & Phillips, L. Social competence and the process-reactive distinction in psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1962, 65, 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold J. Sameroff
    • 1
  • Ronald Seifer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Developmental DisabilitiesUniversity of Illinois, Chicago CircleChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations