Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 75 Issue 3 (September 2002), Pages 239-363

Subjective physical complaints and hypochondriacal features from an attachment theoretical perspective (pages 313-332)

The main goal of the present study was to examine the association between physical complaints, hypochondriacal features and attachment characteristics in a representative German general population sample. A total of 1997 German adults, 883 males and 1114 females, completed the Revised Adult Attachment Scale (RAAS), the short form of the Giessen Subjective Complaints List (GSCL) to investigate gender‐related bodilycomplaints and the Whiteley Index for assessing hypochondriacal concerns. Item response theoretical methods, i.e. mixed Rasch analysis, were used in order to identify the best model for the attachment items. Findings suggested that five latent classes yielded the best model fit. The findings provided evidence thatattachment styles displayed different profiles of subjective physical complaints. The highest amount of physical symptoms and hypochondriacal features was identified in anxiously attached individuals with two subsets displaying functionally different subjective symptoms. Secure attachment was, in contrast, not related to a higher amount of specific symptoms. Results are discussed in terms of a developmental approach to symptom experience and somatization.

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