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Family interaction processes during a problem-solving task were examined in children with depressive disorders, children with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, and a normal control group of community children screened for the absence of psychiatric disorder. Major findings were: a) children with depressive disorders were more likely than children with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and children with no psychiatric disorder to direct guilt-inducing comments toward their parents; and b) parents of children with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders were more likely to direct harsh critical comments toward the child than were parents of depressed children or parents of normal controls. In addition, children's and mothers' use of benign criticism was linked, while children's harsh criticism was associated with intrusion from the father, and children's self-denigrating comments were related to specific paternal criticism. Implications of these results for understanding transactional processes associated with childhood-onset depressive and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders are discussed.


Originally published in Family Process, 38(4), 463-476.

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