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Attachment and Trauma in Early Childhood: A Review

  • Child Exposure and Developmental Variables
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Abstract

Attachment relationships are critical to a young child’s optimal development. Both the presence and quality of attachment matter. Experiences of trauma can affect caregiver/child attachment relationships in a variety of ways. This article explores possible associations among trauma and the presence and quality of attachment relationships between young children and their caregivers. The nature of attachment, phases in the development of attachment relationships, and classifications of the quality of attachment are presented. Possible linkages among past traumatic experiences, parental states of mind, parental interactive behaviors, and infant attachment relationships are postulated. The most severe attachment disturbance, reactive attachment disorder, is discussed, including evidence that suggests modification of the current formulation of reactive attachment disorder subtypes; namely, that the indiscriminate subtype of reactive attachment disorder may not qualify as an attachment disorder. More research is needed to better understand reactive attachment disorder and the reciprocal relationships between attachment and trauma experienced by both parents and children.

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Correspondence to Angela S. Breidenstine.

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Breidenstine, A.S., Bailey, L.O., Zeanah, C.H. et al. Attachment and Trauma in Early Childhood: A Review. Journ Child Adol Trauma 4, 274–290 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1080/19361521.2011.609155

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19361521.2011.609155

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