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Adult Attachment Representations Using the Adult Attachment Picture Projective, Childhood Abuse History, and Psychopathology in a Small High-Risk Sample of Women

Context: Attachment theory serves as a basis for examining relationship trauma and psychopathology and how these vary across adult attachment classifications.

Objective: To examine differences in abuse history, psychopathology, and personality disorders between different adult attachment categories in a high-risk sample of mothers.

Methods: Participants were 18 very high-risk mothers, 14 of which had formal maltreatment concerns about parenting of their own children. All completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory–III, Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI), and the Adult Attachment Picture Projective (AAP) was administered to assess adult attachment representations.

Results: Using clinical cutoff scores, very high levels of significant child abuse history (66%), Axis II Personality Disorders (94%), and Axis I Clinical Syndrome scores (44%) were found. On the AAP, none of the women were secure, four were dismissing, five were preoccupied, and nine unresolved. All women classified as preoccupied but none as dismissive reported clinical levels of psychopathology, with women unresolved being somewhat intermediate. The BDI results corroborated that many problems revolved around anxiety and depression, although other problems were found. Abuse history findings followed the same pattern as psychopathology. High rates of personality disorders were present in all groups, although Cluster B problems were most common.


Douglas K Symons

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