An attachment perspective on psychopathology

World Psychiatry. 2012 Feb;11(1):11-5. doi: 10.1016/j.wpsyc.2012.01.003.


In recent years, attachment theory, which was originally formulated to describe and explain infant-parent emotional bonding, has been applied to the study of adolescent and adult romantic relationships and then to the study of psychological processes, such as interpersonal functioning, emotion regulation, coping with stress, and mental health. In this paper, we offer a brief overview of the attachment perspective on psychopathology. Following a brief account of attachment theory, we go on to explain how the study of individual differences in adult attachment intersects with the study of psychopathology. Specifically, we review research findings showing that attachment insecurity is a major contributor to mental disorders, and that the enhancement of attachment security can facilitate amelioration of psychopathology.

Keywords: Attachment; emotion regulation; interpersonal relations; mental health; psychopathology; security; self.