In this article, I highlight the discipline of developmental psychopathology as an integrative framework that builds upon the historical underpinnings of a constructivist perspective. After presenting illustrative developmental psychopathology principles that I consider to be central to a constructivist view, I turn my attention to the role of experience on brain development. This serves as the entree into a discussion of research conducted with maltreated children on brain event-related potentials (ERPs) and the cognitive processing of emotional stimuli, neuroendocrine functioning, and acoustic startle. Each of these components of brain functioning serve to underscore how different neurobiological systems reflect theway in which individuals ascribe meaning to traumatic experiences. Research on child maltreatment, an "experiment of nature," reveals that maltreated children actively construct their reality at both the biological and psychological levels of analysis, at least in part based on the meaning these children impute to their caregiving experiences.
- Child maltreatment