Disorganized/Disoriented (D) attachment has seen widespread interest from policy makers, practitioners, and clinicians in recent years. However, some of this interest seems to have been based on some false assumptions that (1) attachment measures can be used as definitive assessments of the individual in forensic/child protection settings and that disorganized attachment (2) reliably indicates child maltreatment, (3) is a strong predictor of pathology, and (4) represents a fixed or static “trait” of the child, impervious to development or help. This paper summarizes the evidence showing that these four assumptions are false and misleading. The paper reviews what is known about disorganized infant attachment and clarifies the implications of the classification for clinical and welfare practice with children. In particular, the difference between disorganized attachment and attachment disorder is examined, and a strong case is made for the value of attachment theory for supportive work with families and for the development and evaluation of evidence-based caregiving interventions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust: [Grant Number WT103343MA] and the writing of this paper was also facilitated by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (Grant Number 51897) to Pehr Granqvist. The authors would like to thank many researchers, clinicians, and social workers who gave feedback on previous drafts on this paper. We have really appreciated their contributions. A particular thank you to Felicity Callard, Sue Lampitt, and Matt Woolgar for their suggestions, which led to substantial improvements of the paper. The authors are indebted to the Wellcome Trust (Grant Number WT103343MA) whose support has made a real difference to us and facilitated the discussions that led to this consensus statement. The writing of this paper was also facilitated by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (Grant Number 51897) to Pehr Granqvist.
- Disorganized attachment
- attachment disorder
- attachment-based interventions