Clinical Implications of Attachment

By Jay Belsky; Teresa Nezworski | Go to book overview

intense effort toward maintaining the semblance of bonds; inept mothers and their children scrap and feud; mildly abusing mothers and their infants are hostile and difficult, but many severely maltreating mothers and their children do not dare to challenge the durability of their relationships. Rather, they struggle to hide from themselves and from each other the tenuous nature of their bonds; it is as though they fear that a simple dispute could become an uncontrollable attack on the relationship. Such disasters cannot be risked often. This suggests that the pseudo-sensitive behavior of maltreating mothers and the pseudo-cooperative behavior of maltreated children are not false fronts offered to the prying observer, but rather reflect an armed peace protecting the interactants from themselves. Only those who have completely given up, who are totally depressed or angry beyond control, can withdraw from relationships entirely. These are the most tragic casualties a family can produce.

If this is so, procedures for assessing the quality of relationships need to be modified to include these more extreme form of behavior. The creation of an A/C category for the Strange Situation has been suggested as has the modification of the infant codes to differentiate a compulsively compliant pattern of interaction and to better describe the behavior of older maltreated children. Finally, the older children should be assessed in situations that neither force them into close proximity with their mothers nor threaten them with separation. It may be that, in these less dangerous situations, the older children express more negative emotions. Whatever the changes, they should be clearly tied to the functional meaning of behavior and to ecologically valid information. Without such external validation, it is possible that behaviors alone may guide our research rather than the function and meaning of behavior.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research was supported, in part, by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, DHHS Grant # 90-CA-844. Additional support was received from the Charlottesville-Albermarle Association for Retarded Citizens and the Departments of Social Services in Charlottesville, VA and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson.


REFERENCES

Ainsworth M. D. S. ( 1984, April). Attachment, adaptation, and continuity. Paper presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, New York.

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Clinical Implications of Attachment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Contributors xiii
  • Preface xv
  • I General Issues 1
  • 1: Clinical Implications of Attachment 3
  • References 15
  • 2: The Role of Infant-Caregiver Attachment in Development 18
  • Acknowledgment 30
  • Appendix: Attachment, Patterns of Adaptation, Continuity and Change 30
  • References 35
  • II Determinants of Attachment Security and Insecurity 39
  • 3: Maternal, Infant, and Social-Contextual Determinants of Attachment Security 41
  • Appendix: Attachment, Patterns of Adaptation, Continuity and Change 88
  • 4: Maternal Antecedents of Attachment Quality 95
  • Introduction 131
  • Appendix: Attachment, Patterns of Adaptation, Continuity and Change 132
  • 5: Relationships at Risk 136
  • Acknowledgments 164
  • References 164
  • References 167
  • III Consequences of Attachment Security and Insecurity 175
  • 6: Attachment and the Ontogeny of Conduct Problems 177
  • References 210
  • Summary and Conclusions 241
  • References 246
  • References 246
  • 8: Attachment and the Development of Behavior Problems 253
  • References 295
  • 9: Avoidance and Its Relation to Other Defensive Processes 300
  • Acknowledgments 318
  • References 318
  • IV Clinical Applications 325
  • 10: Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory 327
  • References 348
  • 11: Intervention in Insecure Infant Attachment 352
  • References 382
  • 12: A Clinical Approach to Attachment 387
  • References 415
  • Author Index 425
  • Subject Index 435
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