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The infant disorganised attachment classification: "Patterning within the disturbance of coherence".

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Reijman, Sophie 
Foster, Sarah 

Abstract

Since its introduction by Main and Solomon in 1990, the infant disorganised attachment classification has functioned as a predictor of mental health in developmental psychology research. It has also been used by practitioners as an indicator of inadequate parenting and developmental risk, at times with greater confidence than research would support. Although attachment disorganisation takes many forms, it is generally understood to reflect a child's experience of being repeatedly alarmed by their parent's behaviour. In this paper we analyse how the infant disorganised attachment classification has been stabilised and interpreted, reporting results from archival study, ethnographic observations at four training institutes for coding disorganised attachment, interviews with researchers, certified coders and clinicians, and focus groups with child welfare practitioners. Our analysis points to the role of power/knowledge disjunctures in hindering communication between key groups: Main and Solomon and their readers; the oral culture of coders and the written culture of published papers; the research community and practitioners. We highlight how understandings of disorganised attachment have been magnetised by a simplified image of a child fearful of his or her own parent.

Description

Keywords

Classification, Disorganised attachment, Infant mental health, Power/knowledge, Psychology, United Kingdom, Fear, Humans, Infant, Mental Health, Object Attachment, Parent-Child Relations, Parents, Psychology, Child, Psychology, Developmental

Journal Title

Soc Sci Med

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0277-9536
1873-5347

Volume Title

200

Publisher

Elsevier BV
Sponsorship
Wellcome Trust (103343/Z/13/A)
Wellcome Trust (103343/Z/13/Z)