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Disorganized Attachment and Risk for Disorders

Disorganized attachment refers to a parent-child attachment pattern in which the child lacks a coherent strategy to deal with distress in the presence of a caregiver. Children with disorganized attachments show contradictory behaviors (e.g., strong contact seeking followed by intense avoidance), apprehension (e.g., fearful expressions), and out-of-context or bizarre behaviors (e.g., freezing when seeing the parent). Although not a disorder in itself, disorganized attachment signals a risk for various disorders. In fact, disorganized attachment is one of the few risk factors for psychopathology that have been recognized at a very early age. Before describing how attachment disorganization may lead to mental health disorders and symptoms, it is helpful to place disorganized attachment in historical context and discuss what factors may promote it.

Historical Context

John Bowlby, ...

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