A bit of history

The Society for Life history Research in Psychopathology started meeting in the late 1960s. At that point, it was made up of a small group of scientists open to researchers with a major commitment to longitudinal investigation, who shared a belief that a ‘life history’ approach would cast important light on the development of psychopathology, and who came from different disciplines, including genetics, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, social work and law.

At that stage, there was a tradition that papers from the meetings were published, either as books or special sections of a journal, and the meetings gave rise to a series of influential publications.

The first meetings of the Society for Life History Research in Psychopathology were published as books entitled Life History Research in Psychopathology, edited by Merrill Roff and David Ricks and published by University of Minnesota Press: vol 1, Roff & Ricks, 1970; vol 2, Roff et al., 1972; vol 3, Ricks et al., 1974; vol 4, Wirt et al., 1975. Each volume combines papers originally presented at two conferences on life history research in psychopathology.

It was during the third meeting at the Hillside Hospital, Glen Oasks, New York, that the participants decided to establish themselves as an organization (the fourth meeting was held at Washington University in St. Louis). These ‘founding’ members include Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas, Barbara and Bruce Dohrenwend, Lee Robins, George Vaillant, Merrill Roff, as well as lots of others.

Past meetings took place:

  • In 1981 in Monterey, CA, organized by Sarnoff Mednick. The papers were published in a 1983 book entitled Prospective Studies of Crime and Delinquency.
  • In 1986 in Palm Springs, CA, organized by Sarnoff Mednick again. This led to the publication of papers in a journal called Psychiatry, vol 51, 1988.
  • In 1987 in St Louis, MO, organized by Lee Robins. The papers were published in a book entitled Straight and Devious Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood (Robins & Rutter, 1990)
  • in 1995 in Chatham, MA, USA
  • In 1996 in London, UK: organized by Barbara Maughan and David Farrington. Papers were published in a special issue of Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, vol 9, 1999.
  • In 1998 in Seattle, WA, USA: organized by David Hawkins and Richard Catalano.
  • In 2006 in Atlanta, GA, USA
  • In 2010 in Montreal, Canada
  • In 2012 in Richmond, UK.
  • In 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA., USA: organised by Drs. Alison Hipwell and Jeffrey Burke.
  • In 2016 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands: organised by Machteld Hoeve and Hanneke Creemers.

Other key publications of the Society for Life History Research include:

  • The Origins and Course of Psychopathology (Strauss et al., 1977);
  • Human Functioning in Longitudinal Perspective (Sells et al., 1980);
  • Life-span Research on the Prediction of Psychopathology (Erlenmeyer-Kimling & Miller, 1986);
  • Origins of Psychopathology (Ricks & Dohrenwend, 1983);
  • Where and When: Geographic and Generational Influences on psychopathology (Cohen et Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 7, 261–264 1997 © Whurr Publishers Ltd 261 al., 1998).