Development and Psychopathology


Attachment organization and familial overinvolvement for adults with serious psychopathological disorders

Mary Doziera1 c1, Andrea L. Stevensona1, Spring W. Leea1 and Dawn I. Velligana2

a1 Trinity University

a2 San Antonio State Hospital


Forty adults with serious psychopathological disorders were administered the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Attachment strategies were assessed using Kobak's (1989) Q-sort method, which yields scores along the two dimensions of security/anxiety and repression/preoccupation. Expressed emotion was rated for a close family member based on the Five-Minute Speech Sample (FMSS). In addition, premorbid competence was assessed, and subjects completed a psychiatric symptom inventory. Subjects who used more extreme secondary attachment strategies (whether preoccupied or repressing) were more likely to have family members who were overinvolving. Symptom inventories revealed greater symptom reporting by individuals who relied more on preoccupied than on repressing strategies and by individuals who were in high expressed emotion families. Higher levels of premorbid competence were associated with more secure attachment strategies. These findings are consistent with a transactional model of relationships whereby the attachment strategies of these adults affect the involvement of their family members, which in turn further perpetuate behaviors associated with their attachment strategies.


c1 Address reprint requests to: Mary Dozier, Department of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212.