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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The static approach to characterizing psychopathology classifies disorders syndromally, with little attention to development or social risk mediators. This approach, founded on biological reductionism, characterizes particular syndromes as arising from genetic and/or neural dysfunctions. In contrast, the high-risk approach emphasizes exposure to adversity, with little consideration of neurobiology. Since neurobiological vulnerability × environmental risk interactions often account for more variance in developmental outcomes than do main effects, studying either in isolation can be misleading. This chapter presents an ontogenic process perspective in which neurobiological vulnerabilities interact with coercive family processes to shape and maintain emotional lability and emotion dysregulation—hallmarks of psychopathology. It emphasizes bidirectional transactions across levels of analysis (e.g., behavior ↔ autonomic function), mechanisms through which physiological systems adapt to coercion (neural plasticity, epigenesis), generalization of coercive behaviors across contexts (family, peer groups), and distinct functions of neurobiological systems in transmitting coercive behavior.

Keywords: coercion, physiology, development, ontogenic, externalizing, emotion, dysregulation, lability, autonomic, regulation

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