Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a disorder of infancy and early childhood characterized by disturbed attachment patterns and developmentally inappropriate attachment behaviors resulting from disrupted caregiving environments during infancy. Inconsistent care as an infant, such as emotional and social deprivation, can cause an individual to distrust his or her caregiver. RAD is often diagnosed in children in foster, residential, or shelter care, where deprivation experiences may occur.

This entry begins by reviewing the concept of attachment. Next, it presents the diagnostic criteria, prevalence, and course of RAD. The entry concludes by discussing the outcomes associated with RAD.


A secure attachment bond between a child and his or her caregiver develops when there is a predictable, loving connection between each member of the dyad. Just as secure ...

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