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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, we define an older individual’s mental health as a unique configuration of risk factors and protective factors having accumulated over the whole life course that is potentially reflected in various degrees of adaptive behaviour. Four central propositions guide clinical geropsychology in both research and practice: namely heterogeneity, etiological complexity, plasticity, and historical embeddedness. Three phenomena are the foundation of clinical geropsychology: (1) dysfunctional psychological reactions to normal ageing; (2) mental health problems in the course of pathological ageing of the brain; and (3) mental health problems as a result of pathological developmental processes that started earlier in life. We discuss practical implications of a lifespan approach to maladaptive behaviour and psychopathology in old age.

Keywords: lifespan psychology, ageing, psychopathology, maladaptive behaviour, old age, depression

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