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

By Vivien Prior; Danya Glaser | Go to book overview

13 Research on
Attachment Disorder

The scientific study of attachment disorder is a recent enterprise, with the important exception of the work of Tizard, Hodges and colleagues during the 1970s and 1980s. Only a handful of samples of children whose lives started in adversity have been studied, some longitudinally, specifically with the aim of furthering our understanding of the phenomenon (European Commission Daphne Programme 2005). The most important and most recent of these studies are presented and appraised in this chapter. Before commencing this appraisal, however, it is necessary to consider some issues regarding research.


Issues regarding research methods

In appraising the scientific literature concerning attachment disorder the following concerns regarding research methods have been encountered.


The timing of the assessment of attachment behaviour for children who
have moved to a new placement

As previously described, the separation from or loss of an attachment figure arouses intense emotions including protest and despair. It seems inappropriate, therefore, to assess a child's attachment early into a new placement. Not only is the child adjusting to the separation or loss, but he or she is also dealing with the potential formation of a new attachment. The period during which the child is in transition is not the time to assess attachment as an entity, other than as an entity in transition. The duration of what is regarded as the period of transition will vary with a child's age and maturity.

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