Importantly, the working model of the mother-child relationship also generalises over time to incorporate new people and new experiences (Miller, 1993). The cognitive model therefore generates the expectation that deviation in regard to attachment due to inadequate parenting (e.g. inconsistency and insensitivity) will be associated with negative relational schemas regarding the self and others which are observable through deviant patterns of social behaviour (Belsky & Cassidy, 1994; Feeley, DeRubeis, & Gelfand, 1999). The IWM associated with insecure attachment has also been shown to be related as predicted to interpersonal difficulties and also subsequently anorexia nervosa (Broberg, Hjalmers, Nevonen, 2001). Controlling, rejecting and inconsistent parenting can similarly lead to an abnormal IWM, associated insecure attachment, and major depression (Hammen, 1992; Wenar, 1982).The cognitive model thus proposes an intrapersonal input-process-output based account which explains the connection between caregiver behaviour, abnormality in a developmental process, the associated maladaptive cognitive processes and also resultant maladaptive behaviour. However, in cognitive explanations of developmental processes the causal nature of the invoked models as in the case of the IWM are questionable as the abnormal model may be a correlationary phenomenon which arises is parallel with in this case the developmental process of abnormal attachment, or may be caused by this process rather than vice-versa (Davidson & Neale, 2001).
The cognitive model also contributes to the understanding of the process of initiative development through the concept of learned helplessness which proposes that if children’s initiative based attempts to explore their environment as active-agents are significantly impeded and the individual is regularly exposed to negative, uncontrollable stimuli that the individual becomes a passive recipient to the unpleasant events s/he encounters (Seligman ; Peterson, 1986). The cognitive exhaustion model accounts for the process by which the child becomes such a passive recipient. The model proposes that in situations which are perceived as controllable individuals engage in generative thinking (Kofta ; Sedek, 1989).
However, when the environment is perceived as uncontrollable cognitive exhaustion occurs due to the lack of association between cognitive effort and cognitive gain (Sedek ; Kofta, 1990). In the cognitive model the loss of initiative associated with learned helplessness has been proposed to also underlie the central helplessness aspect which characterises major depression. Similarly, a sense of childhood helplessness has been identified to exist amongst those with anorexia, a disorder highly comorbid with major depression (Toro, Nicolau, ; Cervera, 1995).The initiative models discussed provide examples of process based cognitive accounts of abnormal process development where inserted models account for various processes within an overarching framework of explanation (Eysenck ; Keane, 2005). The cognitive model is useful in that the construction of its models often leaves space for the “fleshing out” of dynamic processes (e.g.
cognitive exhaustion between and within other components of the model (e.g. initiative impeded passive recipient) (Eysenck et al., 2005).However, a problem with cognitive process accounts of psychopathology is their lack of developmental progression: in the case described the model is deemed to hold true throughout development. The cognitive model has produced comprehensive accounts of cognitive development demonstrating qualitatively different processes as occurring at different stages throughout the lifecourse, but it has not as yet developmentally tailored the majority of its accounts of psychopathology (Wenar et al., 2000; Davison et al.
, 2001).The perception of the uncontrollability of aversive events in major depression is compounded by the presence of attributional schemata that allow these events to be perceived as because of the individual, stable and globally applicable to all aspects of the individual’s life (Davidson & Neale, 2001; Weisz, Southam-Gerow, McCarthy, 2001). This proposal reflects a significant flaw applicable to a number of proposals from the cognitive model in that the schemata proposed are likely to be characterised by qualitative differences at different points in development (Herbert, 2003). The proposed attributions and schemata may also be correlates of major depression rather than predictors or causes of it (Bennett & Bates, 1995).However, despite its limitations the cognitive model of psychopathology is perhaps the most useful in understanding of developmental processes involved in the emergence of psychopathology. The cognitive model’s focus on operational definition, causative dynamic processes, and the construction of conditional model frameworks make it ideal for the generation of testable hypotheses, the findings from which can allow the evolution of the model.
The Integrated Contribution of the ModelsIn this essay, the discussion of the developmental processes under review showed that the four models of psychopathology can explain different aspects of a developmental process or can offer different perspectives on the same aspect. For instance, the cognitive model explains the intrapersonal processes which lead to abnormal attachment and the family systems model explains the interpersonal events associated with abnormal attachment.The psychodynamic model proposes overcontrolling parenting leads to excessive self-control as in anorexia, whereas the behaviourist approach points to reinforcement of self-control by parents and relevant others. It is therefore clear that each model makes a valid contribution to the understanding of developmental processes.
The models also act to compliment each other with each model focusing on a specific aspect of the developmental process in question and pointing to a certain aspect of emergent psychopathology.Intrapersonal processes are central to both the psychodynamic approach and the cognitive model, whereas the family systems approach focuses on interpersonal relationships and the behaviourist model on the influence of the environment. There is a place for all models in the developmental psychopathology approach and the integration of diverse findings into models of psychopathology will be the greatest challenge for the future of the approach and of the greatest benefit to the understanding of both psychopathology and its emergence.ReferencesArmstrong, J. ; Roth, D.M. (1989). Attachment and separation difficulties in eating disorders: A preliminary investigation.
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