Children with disorganized attachment are not a unified category. This study examined different signs of disorganization in school-age children’s attachment narratives, whether the signs clustered into specific profiles of disorganization, and if the profiles were associated with children’s continuous attachment ratings and mental health. Our binational sample of 8- to 12-year-old children (n = 33) had disorganization as their primary attachment classification. Attachment was measured with the Story Stem procedure and mental health symptoms were measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Fifteen different signs of disorganization were found that clustered into four unique profiles distinguished by chaotic-frightening, hostile-punitive, caregiving, and dissociative signs. Children with more punitive and frightening signs in their profiles displayed higher attachment disorganization and ambivalence, whereas caregiving and dissociative profiles were associated with attachment avoidance, and the dissociative profile also with more mental health symptoms. Subtypes of middle childhood disorganization need more research and are also important to recognize in clinical practice.
Flykt, Marjo; Gastelle, Marissa; Punamäki, Raija-Leena; and Kerns, Kathryn A.
"Signs of Disorganization in Middle Childhood Attachment Narratives,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 68:
3, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol68/iss3/3