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      Disorganized attachment in infancy: a review of the phenomenon and its implications for clinicians and policy-makers

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      Attachment & Human Development
      Disorganized attachment, infancy, attachment-based interventions, maltreatment, attachment disorder

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          Disorganized/Disoriented (D) attachment has seen widespread interest from policy makers, practitioners, and clinicians in recent years. However, some of this interest seems to have been based on some false assumptions that (1) attachment measures can be used as definitive assessments of the individual in forensic/child protection settings and that disorganized attachment (2) reliably indicates child maltreatment, (3) is a strong predictor of pathology, and (4) represents a fixed or static “trait” of the child, impervious to development or help. This paper summarizes the evidence showing that these four assumptions are false and misleading. The paper reviews what is known about disorganized infant attachment and clarifies the implications of the classification for clinical and welfare practice with children. In particular, the difference between disorganized attachment and attachment disorder is examined, and a strong case is made for the value of attachment theory for supportive work with families and for the development and evaluation of evidence-based caregiving interventions.

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          Most cited references119

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          Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

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            An effect size primer: A guide for clinicians and researchers.

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              Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model.


                Author and article information

                Attach Hum Dev
                Attach Hum Dev
                Attachment & Human Development
                02 November 2017
                02 November 2017
                : 19
                : 6
                : 534-558
                [ a ] Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , Stockholm, Sweden
                [ b ] Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota , Minneapolis, MN, USA
                [ c ] Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware , Newark, NY, USA
                [ d ] Department of Psychology, University of California , Berkeley, CA, USA
                [ e ] Psychology Department, The New School , New York, NY, USA
                [ f ] Department of Psychology, Education, and Child Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam , Rotterdam, The Netherlands
                [ g ] Department of Public Health & Primary Care, University of Cambridge , Cambridge, UK
                [ h ] Clinical Child and Family Studies and Amsterdam Public Health, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam , Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [ i ] Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College of London , London, UK
                [ j ] Child and Family Studies, Leiden University , Leiden, The Netherlands
                [ k ] Psychology Department, University of Maryland , Washington DC, USA
                [ l ] Department of Psychology, University of Calgary , Calgary, Canada
                [ m ] Department of Psychology, The University of Texas , Austin, TX, USA
                [ n ] Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Northumbria , Newcastle, UK
                [ o ] Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, SUNY Polytechnic Institute , Utica, NY, USA
                [ p ] the Neurodevelopmental Research Center, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences , Singapore, Singapore
                [ q ] Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg , Erlangen, Germany
                [ r ] Department of Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College , New York, NY, USA
                [ s ] Psychology Department, St Mary’s College of California , Moraga, NY, USA
                [ t ] Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington , Seattle, MA, USA
                [ u ] the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin , Austin, TX, USA
                [ v ] Child and Adolsecent Mental Health Service, Trafford Children and Young Peoples Service , Manchester, UK
                [ w ] Minnesota Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis , Minneapolis, MI, USA
                [ x ] Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario , London, ON, Canada
                [ y ] University of Western Ontario , London, ON, Canada
                [ z ] T. Denny Sanford School of Social & Family Dynamics, Arizona State University , Tempe, AZ, USA
                [ aa ] School of Medicine, University of California , Los Angeles, CA, USA
                [ ab ] Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome , Rome, Italy
                [ ac ] Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University , Stony Brook, NY, USA
                [ ad ] The Mt. Hope Family Center, University of Rochester , Rochester, NY, USA
                [ ae ] Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Tulane University , New Orleans, LA, USA
                [ af ] Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School , Boston, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Author information
                © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 22 June 2017
                : 07 July 2017
                Page count
                References: 108, Pages: 25
                Funded by: John Templeton Foundation 10.13039/100000925
                Award ID: 51897
                Funded by: Wellcome Trust 10.13039/100004440
                Award ID: WT103343MA
                This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust: [Grant Number WT103343MA] and the writing of this paper was also facilitated by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (Grant Number 51897) to Pehr Granqvist.
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                disorganized attachment,infancy,attachment-based interventions,maltreatment,attachment disorder


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