Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Attachment and personality disorders

Attachment styles are patterns of expectations, needs, ways of regulating one's moods and social behaviour. They are believed to stem from our relationship with our primary caregiver - usually our mother - during our first few years of life. A sensitive and consistent response to a child leads to positive models of oneself and others developing but inadequate responsiveness leads to either a negative model of oneself as undeserving of support, or others as fundamentally unreliable. People with negative models of themselves are said to suffer from attachment anxiety. They are hypersensitive to things going wrong in relationships, constantly monitor the situation for signs of abandonment and can be 'clingy.' People with negative models of others downplay the importance of relationships and try not to think about them too much - something psychologists term attachment avoidance. Researchers from New York looked at the links between attachment style and interpersonal problems in a sample of 41 people receiving outpatient treatment for a mental-health problem. They found that people with secure attachment were less likely to be dominant, vindictive, cold, socially-inhibited and non-assertive. People with attachment anxiety were more likely to be cold, vindictive, socially-inhibited and dominant, although they were also more likely to be self-sacrificing. People with attachment avoidance were more likely to be dominant.

Haggerty, Greg, Hilsenroth, Mark J. and Vala-Stewart, Rosemarie - Attachment and interpersonal distress: examining the relationship between attachment styles and interpersonal problems in a clinical population Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy January-February 2009, 16(1), 1-9

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