Objective: Identify associations among early maltreatment, sufficiencies, and psychopathological interferences in the domains of conscience functioning and low serum dopamine beta hydroxylase activity. Method: Nineteen emotionally disturbed boys screened for maltreatment experiences were compared according to age at onset of maltreatment, enzyme activity, and their conscience functioning in the domain of moral valuation. They were also compared in conscience functions to 19 age and sex matched normal counterparts. Results: Subjects who endured maltreatment prior to 36 months had developmental delays and interferences with functioning in more conscience domains than those who were either spared such experiences or who endured maltreatment later in life. Subjects with low enzyme activity had significantly more interference with authority and peer valuation than subjects with high enzyme activity. Greater interference with valuation was associated with lower enzyme activity and more frequent abuse prior to 36 months. Conclusions: Psychosocial sequelae of early maltreatment have been identified in the domains of conscience. An association has been established between pathological interference in the domain of moral valuation and a putative neurobiologic sequelae of early maltreatment. Implications for future research in the psychobiology of maltreatment are discussed.
- Dopamine Beta Hydroxylase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health