and Lapses in Behavioral
and Attentional Strategies
The conceptual cornerstone of our understanding of disorganized attachment behaviors in infancy was laid when Main and Solomon (1986) chose the term “;disorganized/disoriented”; to describe the diverse array of previously unrecognized fearful, odd, disorganized, or overtly conflicted behaviors exhibited during Ainsworth’s strange situation procedure. As described by Main and Solomon (1986, 1990), infants are to be considered “;disorganized/disoriented”; when, for example, they appear apprehensive, cry and fall huddled to the floor, or put their hands to their mouths with hunched shoulders in response to their parents’ return following a brief separation. Other disorganized infants display conflicting behavioral movements, such as turning in circles while simultaneously approaching their parents. Still others appear disoriented, freezing all movements while exhibiting a trance-like expression. Main and Hesse (1990, 1992; see also Hesse & Main, in press-a, in press-b) have proposed that a parent who enters altered states of consciousness during discussions of loss and trauma—states such as trance-like or dissociative states—is more likely to engage in inexplicably frightening and/or frightened behavior with a child. The caregiver, who at once becomes the source of comfort and the source of alarm, arouses contradictory responses in the infant—that is, the infant experiences inherently contradictory tendencies to both flee from and approach the caregiver, resulting in an experience of “;fright without solution”; (Main, 1995). Under this condition, a collapse of behavioral strategies necessarily occurs and the infant is likely to display mistimed, interrupted, and/or incomplete movements and expressions, as well as the behaviors described directly above.
Main and colleagues’ descriptions of disorganized/disoriented behavioral patterns in infancy (e.g., Main, 1973; Main & Solomon, 1986, 1990; Main & Weston, 1981) have led to an explosion of more than 80 empirical and theoretical publications on the developmental origins, correlates, and outcomes of attachment disorganization (see van IJzendoorn, Schuengel, & BakermansKranenburg, in press). This chapter begins with a review of the literature on attachment disorganization in infancy, including its definition, prevalence, and associated correlates in infant behavior. The second major section, “;Family Correlates of Disorganized Attachment Behavior,”; summarizes studies of family risk factors, parental states of mind regarding attachment assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1984, 1985, 1996; Main & Goldwyn, 1998; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985), and frightened or frightening parental behavior toward an infant. In the third major section of the chapter, data describing the