Attachment security and parental bonding in adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder: a comparison with depressed out-patients and healthy controls

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2004 Jun;109(6):447-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0047.2004.00271.x.


Objective: This study examines concurrent associations of attachment security, psychopathology and recollections of early parental interactions, in adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and in healthy controls.

Method: Thirty-six out-patients with OCD, 16 depressed out-patients and 26 controls were asked to fill out the Revised Adult Attachment Scale and the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI).

Results: OCD and depressed groups were more insecure than controls. The depressed group recalled less caring mothers than the OCD group, while the OCD group was indistinguishable from controls on PBI measures. Married status was associated with greater security, but also with recollections of greater parental control, and lower maternal care.

Conclusion: OCD and depressed groups demonstrated greater attachment insecurity than controls. No clear relationship emerged between security and PBI recollections. The PBI may not measure aspects of early interactions essential for later attachment security, or recollections may be biased according to diagnosis or attachment style.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*