British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 45 Issue 3 (September 2006), Pages 279-438

Parental recall, attachment relating and self‐attacking/self‐reassurance: Their relationship with depression (pages 297-308)

Objectives. When things go wrong for people they can become self‐critical or focus on positive, reassuring aspects of the self. This study explored the relationship between forms of self‐criticism and self‐reassurance, recall of parental experiences and attachment style in relation to depressed symptoms in students.

Methods. A sample of 197 undergraduate students from the UK and Canada completed self‐report questionnaires measuring recall of parental styles, attachment, forms of self‐criticism, self‐reassurance, and depression symptoms.

Results. Recall of parents as rejecting and overprotecting was significantly related to both inadequacy and self‐hating self‐criticism. In contrast, parental warmth was negatively correlated with these forms of self‐criticism. In addition, when things go wrong for the person, recall of parental warmth was associated with the ability to be self‐reassuring. A mediator analysis suggested that (1) the impact of recall of negative parenting on depression is mediated through the forms of self‐criticism and (2) the effect of parental warmth on depression was mediated by the ability to be self‐reassuring.

Conclusions. The impacts of negative parenting styles may translate into vulnerabilities to depression via the way children (and later adults) develop their self‐to‐self relating (e.g. as self‐critical versus self‐reassuring). Hence, there is a need for further research on the link between attachment experiences, recall of parental rejection/warmth and their relationship to internal, self‐evaluative and affect systems in creating vulnerabilities to psychopathology.

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