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Attachment Theory and Psychopathology

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Attachment Theory and Psychopathology * The exhibition of a variety of unusual, contradictory or conflicted behaviour in the Strange Situation is hypothesized as ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Attachment Theory and Psychopathology


1
Attachment Theory and Psychopathology
2
What is Attachment?
  • Enduring emotional tie
  • Internal working model
  • Secure base for exploration
  • Foundation for future relationships

3
Assessment of Attachment in Infancy
  • Strange Situation as standard setting for
    observing infant attachment
  • Variety of mildly stressful events including
    separations and reunions with mother
  • focus is on reunion behaviour

4
Categories of Infant Attachment
  • Organized Attachment
  • Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent
  • Disorganized Attachment

5
Secure Relationship
  • Greets parent on reunion
  • Comfort seeking if upset
  • Comfort is effective in soothing
  • Security allows confidence in exploration
  • Balance of attachment and exploration

6
Avoidant Relationship
  • Behaves independent of mom
  • Lack of greeting on reunion
  • Focus on exploration without reference to mother
    - distraction from negative emotion

7
Resistant Relationship
  • Lack of exploration
  • Typically distressed at separation
  • Anger or passivity interferes with being
    comforted on reunion

8
Distribution of Organized Patterns
9
Clinical Implications
  • Securely Attachment Infants
  • more competent with peers
  • more competent problem solvers
  • less vulnerable to behaviour problems
  • more self confident

10
Clinical Implications
  • Avoidant and Resistant attachment
  • More hostile with peers
  • Peer victimization
  • More behaviour problems
  • Resistant
  • - linked to anxiety disorder in adolescence

11
Disorganized Relationship
  • First noticed in infants with a history of
    maltreatment
  • Breakdown in the organization of the attachment
    system
  • Theorized to relate to fear of the parent fright
    without solution
  • 15 in non-clinical samples as high as 80 in
    at-risk samples

12
Signs of Disorganization
  • Approach parent in odd ways
  • Move away from parent when upset or frightened
  • Freeze
  • Show fear of parent

13
Clinical Implications
  • Poor regulation of negative emotions
  • Oppositional defiant behaviour
  • Hostile-aggressive behaviour
  • Coercive and punitive styles of interacting with
    peers and family members
  • Dissociative Disorders

14
Attachment and Family Drawings
  • See overheads

15
Adult Attachment and Psychopathology
16
AAI Questions
  • Description of childhood relationships
  • Five adjectives with episodic memories
  • Upset and separation experiences
  • Abuse and loss
  • Relationships since childhood
  • Relationship with own child

17
Organized Categories
  • Autonomous (60 of population)
  • coherent with little self deception
  • values attachment relationships
  • Dismissing (22 of population)
  • limits activation by idealization, lack of
    memory, or devaluing attachment figures
  • emphasis on fun or material aspects of
    relationship limits emotional aspects
  • Preoccupied (17 of population)
  • entangled with parents - weak sense of self
  • memories, but difficulty providing objective
    overview

18
Strange Situation and AAIs
  • Secure Autonomous
  • Avoidant Dismissing
  • Resistant Preoccupied

19
Clinical Implications
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

20
Depressive Disorders
  • Rosenstein Horowitz (1996)
  • 32 psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents
  • 31 were dismissing
  • 69 were preoccupied

21
Anxiety Disorders
  • Fongay et al. (1996)
  • 66 Preoccupied
  • 18 Dismissing
  • 16 Autonomous

22
Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Patrick et al. (1994)
  • 12 Borderline patients
  • 100 preoccupied
  • Fonagy et al. (1996)
  • 36 Borderline patients
  • 75 preoccupied
  • 17 dismissing
  • 8 autonomous

23
Attachment Interventions
  • Van den Boom (1994)

24
Van den Boom (1994)
  • Train caregivers in sensitive responsiveness
    (increase maternal sensitivity)
  • To do this you need to
  • Improve the mothers ability to monitor,
    perceive, and respond to the infants signals and
    needs accurately

25
Supporting Secure Attachment
  • Intervention Study
  • 100 highly irritable infants
  • 3 home visits between 6 and 9 months focused on
    enhancing sensitivity
  • Intervention mothers more sensitive
  • 65 of intervention and 28 of control coded as
    secure in strange situation
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