Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 72 Issue 3 (September 1999), Pages 285-425

Developmental vs. social personality models of adult attachment and mental ill health (pages 285-303)

Both the developmental and social personality approaches to the study of adult attachment are concerned with understanding those factors that describe an individual's quality of relational adaptation and risk for mental ill health. This paper examines the theoretical and methodological assumptions of these alternative models and how these assumptions have markedly different implications for addressing clinical issues. It is suggested that recent evidence necessarily leads to the conclusion that mental and relational difficulties, such as partner violence and victimization, borderline personality, dissociation, suicidal behaviour and other clinical symptomology thought to be related to experiences of severe relationship distress, are best explained in terms of attachment disorganization rather than as normative forms of attachment insecurity or fearful avoidant adult romantic attachment.

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