Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence, and Practice

By Vivien Prior; Danya Glaser | Go to book overview

12 Two Versions of
Attachment Disorder

There are two discourses on attachment disorder. One is based on disciplined scientific enquiry which seeks to understand disturbances of attachment with careful reference to theory, international classifications and evidence. This discourse is found in academic journals and books and the references given to support the statements made are those of respected attachment theorists and researchers. As well as Bowlby and Ainsworth, these include Tizard, Hodges, Chisholm, O'Connor, Zeanah and colleagues in their various research teams. This work is reviewed in the following chapter.

An alternative discourse is found in some clinical practice, non-academic literature and on the Internet. This discourse often makes passing reference to Bowlby and the academic literature, and then proceeds to make claims which have no basis in attachment theory and for which there is no empirical evidence. In particular, and most worryingly, quite unfounded claims are made for the efficacy of alternative 'attachment' therapies.


International classifications

Attachment disorders are described, with diagnostic guidelines, in the two major international classifications, ICD-10 and DSM-IV-TR. These are summarised below.


ICD-10 and DSM-IV-TR classifications of attachment disorder

ICD-10 (The Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (World Health Organization 1992)) describes two distinct attachment

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