Unresolved attachment, PTSD, and dissociation in women with childhood abuse histories

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2006 Apr;74(2):219-228. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.74.2.219.


The primary objective of this study was to examine unresolved trauma as assessed by the Adult Attachment Interview and current psychiatric symptoms, focusing on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation, in a group of adult female childhood abuse survivors. The authors examined psychiatric symptoms and attachment representations in a group with (n = 30) and without (n = 30) abuse-related PTSD. The findings revealed that unresolved trauma carried a 7.5-fold increase in the likelihood of being diagnosed with PTSD and was most strongly associated with PTSD avoidant symptoms rather than dissociative symptoms. The utility of a PTSD framework for understanding unresolved trauma and the role of intentional avoidance of trauma cues in the maintenance of traumatized states of mind are discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires