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Child–parent attachment following early institutional deprivation

  • THOMAS G. O'CONNOR (a1), ROBERT S. MARVIN (a2), MICHAEL RUTTER (a1), JEFFREY T. OLRICK (a2), PRESTON A. BRITNER (a3) and THE ENGLISH AND ROMANIAN ADOPTEES STUDY TEAM...

Extract

Child–parent attachment quality with an adoptive caregiver at age 4 years was examined in a sample of 111 children adopted into the United Kingdom following early severe deprivation in Romania and a comparison group of 52 nondeprived within–United Kingdom adoptees. Findings indicated that, compared with nondeprived adoptees, children who experienced early severe deprivation were less likely to be securely attached and more likely to show atypical patterns of attachment behavior; ordinary forms of insecure attachment were not associated with deprivation. Within the sample of deprived adoptees, there was a dose–response association between duration of deprivation and disturbances in attachment behavior. In addition, a minority of children who experienced severe early deprivation were classified as avoidant, secure, or dependent using conventional classification strategies, despite also exhibiting atypical patterns of attachment behaviors, and this was also more likely among children exposed to prolonged deprivation. The results raise both theoretical and methodological implications for attachment research on very deprived children.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Thomas G. O'Connor, Institute of Psychiatry, Box Number P080, 111 Denmark Hill, London, UK SE5 8AF; E-mail: spjwtoc@iop.kcl.ac.uk.

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