Axis of Criticism Model (ACRIM): An Integrative Conceptualization of Person–Context Exchanges in Vulnerability to Adolescent Psychopathology

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Abstract

The axis of criticism model (ACRIM) describes person–context exchanges that increase vulnerability to adolescent psychopathology. ACRIM identifies criticism as a focal theme amalgamating self-identity, relationships, and social systems. Criticism contributes to one’s self-identity (“I know what I should be because I fall short of it”), functions as social glue (“I know what you want me to be because I am not there”), and maintains broader social structures (“We know what the rules are because we broke them”). ACRIM predicts (a) reciprocal causality involving two formidable risk factors for psychopathology, namely, self-critical vulnerability (SCV; i.e., self-bashing and derogation) and critical expressed emotion (CEE; i.e., criticism from parents, best friends, and teachers) under elevated life stress and in the absence of compensatory social support, and (b) interactions between SCV and CEE in predicting psychopathology and psychosomatics. We outline implications for psychotherapy integration with adolescents.

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