Ego Development, Psychopathology, and Parenting Problems in Substance-Abusing Mothers

Nancy Suchman, Thomas McMahon, Cindy DeCoste, Nicole Castiglioni, Suniya Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The authors examined maternal ego development in relation to psychopathology and parenting problems in a sample of substance abusing mothers. Given predilections at higher levels of ego development for introspection and guilt, the authors expected mothers at higher levels to report more psychopathology. Given predilections at lower levels of ego development for dichotomous perceptions and limited conceptions of causation, the authors expected mothers at low levels to report more problematic parenting behaviors. Intelligence was expected to correlate but not overlap with ego development. Subjects were 182 mothers who expressed interest in a randomized clinical trial for a new parenting intervention. Measures included the Washington University Sentence Completion Task-Short Form, the Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test. Results of correlation and multivariate analyses of variance confirmed predictions. Implications for future development of interventions for substance abusing mothers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • drug abuse
  • ego development
  • parenting style
  • psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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