Ninety-five men, originally selected for health, have been prospectively followed from age 18 until age 47. Two raters, blind to all subsequent events, assessed the relative adequacy of their childhood environments. When the men were 47 years old, other independent raters blind to childhood data assessed the men's overall adjustment, psychopathology, object relations, dominant mechanisms of defense, and oral dependent traits.
Warm childhoods were significantly correlated with the following traits in middle life: few oral dependent traits, little psychopathology, the capacity to play, and-most important-good object relations.
Childhood environment had relatively little association with work history, ego mechanisms of defense, or psychosomatic illness. Sustained childhood stresses, but not isolated trauma, were associated with subsequent poor global mental health.