Narrative representations of caregivers and self in maltreated pre-schoolers.

S. L. Toth, Dante Cicchetti, J. Macfie, A. Maughan, K. VanMeenen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


This study examined narrative representations of parents and of self, as well as child behavior during the assessment, in maltreated (N = 56) and demographically comparable non-maltreated (N = 37) pre-school-aged children in a one-year longitudinal study. Maltreated children evidenced more negative representations of parents and of self at Time 2, including the juxta-position of both a negative and a grandiose self. Over time there was a marginal interaction such that maltreated children portrayed fewer disciplining parent representations and nonmaltreated children portrayed more. Also over time, maltreated children portrayed marginally more grandiose self-representations and nonmaltreated children fewer. Furthermore, maltreated children demonstrated less responsivity to the examiner over time and nonmaltreated children demonstrated more. The deleterious effects of maltreatment on representations of self and of others, especially as development proceeds, are discussed, and the importance of providing attachment-informed intervention prior to the consolidation of these negative representations is highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-305
Number of pages35
JournalAttachment & human development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Maltreatment
  • Narratives
  • Representation
  • Self


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