A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder.

Author:Glaser, Danya
Position:Book review

A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder

Colby Pearce Jessica Kingsley 2009

111 pages [pounds sterling]12.99; Child-centred

Attachment Therapy Alexandra Maeja Raicar, with Pauline Sear and Maggie Gall Karnac Books 2009 214 pages 20.99 [pounds


The first of these two books is aimed at practitioners working with troubled young children and their caregivers. Using the continuing story of a fictional boy, Matthew, it sets out to explain why children who have experienced serious adversity evince difficulties and offers practical suggestions for ameliorating these.

The author, a principal psychologist, begins with a brief overview of attachment theory, attachment behaviour and organisation, its relationship to child development and the crucial role of the attachment figure. There is a seamless introduction of the term 'attachment-disordered' children, a condition from which Matthew and the other children described all suffer. With the aid of diagrams, the second chapter describes the nature of attachment disorders, the contribution of parents to the child's difficulties and patterns of normal and over-arousal. The next chapter focuses on the importance of establishing secure attachment, including practical means by which attachment-disordered children and their parents can be helped towards achieving it. The last chapter concerns the treatment of the attachment-disordered child requiring education of the parents and psychotherapy.

The author presents some helpful strategies for managing the behavioural and emotional difficulties of the children. However, there is a fundamental problem with the term 'attachment-disordered' children. He uses the term repeatedly as though it is well understood and offers a list of characteristics by which to recognise these children. Some of the difficulties associated with this 'disorder' could be interpreted as manifestations of disorganised attachment or its evolution into coercive, controlling or compulsive care-giving relationships with primary caregivers. The list is over-inclusive and many of the difficulties are by no means specific to whatever constitutes attachment disorder. In the current state of knowledge, it would be more accurate to consider the children's presentation as a consequence of various aspects of maltreatment, rather than as a delineated disorder. There is, as yet, no empirical evidence for what can be included reliably in such a disorder and some of the...

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