The clinical significance of social withdrawal
Musgrove, Karen Talley
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The relation of social withdrawal to psychopathology and adjustment problems is unclear; whereas it is not a classifiable disorder in itself, it is an associated symptom of several disorders and is a frequent reason for referral for mental health evaluation. Research evidence also is ambiguous as to whether social withdrawal is related to maladaption. Subtypes of social withdrawal have been proposed to help clarify the issue. The first manuscript presented reviews the literature and examines theories that support three subtypes of social withdrawal. Discussion focuses on the usefulness of the developmental psychopathology perspective in understanding the relationship between social withdrawal and psychological adjustment. The second manuscript uses peer behavior nominations as well as teacher ratings and self-reports to examine psychological adjustment levels of peer-identified socially withdrawn subtypes. Results indicated that a cluster solution which includes five socially-withdrawn clusters was most stable and that two of those five clusters were at-risk for psychological maladjustment. A summary of the findings of the two studies as well as future direction of social withdrawal research concludes the dissertation.