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Psychiatric staff as attachment figures: Understanding management problems in psychiatric services in the light of attachment theory

  • Gwen Adshead (a1)



Attachment theory argues that psychological development and functioning are affected by our earliest attachments to care-givers. Failed or pathological attachment in childhood may give rise to repetition of maladaptive attachment patterns in adulthood.


Analysis of therapeutic relationships in the light of attachment theory.


Relationships between patients and both psychiatric care-givers and institutions may resemble attachment relationships.


An attachment perspective may be useful for understanding common behavioural disturbances in general psychiatric settings, and support the use of clinical strategies which focus on containment of arousal and the management of anxiety states.


Corresponding author

Dr Gwen Adshead, Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne, Berkshire RG45 7EG


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The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Journal of Psychotherapy awarded the author a Psychotherapy Prize for an earlier version of this paper.



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Psychiatric staff as attachment figures: Understanding management problems in psychiatric services in the light of attachment theory

  • Gwen Adshead (a1)
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