Development and Psychopathology



Child–parent attachment following early institutional deprivation


THOMAS G. O'CONNOR a1c1, ROBERT S. MARVIN a2, MICHAEL RUTTER a1, JEFFREY T. OLRICK a2, PRESTON A. BRITNER a3 and THE ENGLISH AND ROMANIAN ADOPTEES STUDY TEAM 
a1 Institute of Psychiatry
a2 University of Virginia
a3 University of Connecticut

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.


Correspondence:
c1 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.