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, 15 (5-6), 562-82

Parsing the Construct of Maternal Insensitivity: Distinct Longitudinal Pathways Associated With Early Maternal Withdrawal

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Parsing the Construct of Maternal Insensitivity: Distinct Longitudinal Pathways Associated With Early Maternal Withdrawal

Karlen Lyons-Ruth et al. Attach Hum Dev.

Abstract

The current paper expands on Ainsworth's seminal construct of maternal sensitivity by exploring the developmental pathways associated with one particular form of insensitivity: maternal withdrawal. Drawing on longitudinal data from infancy to age 20 in a high-risk cohort, we highlight how maternal withdrawal over the first eight years of life is associated with child caregiving behavior and with maternal role confusion, as well as with features of borderline and antisocial personality disorders. We also present evidence for the specificity of this pathway in relation to other aspects of maternal insensitivity and other aspects of child adaptation. To illuminate these pathways we both review recent published work and report new findings on the middle childhood and adolescent components of these trajectories. Finally, we consider the implications for assessment of maternal behavior in high-risk samples and indicate directions for productive future work.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Maternal withdrawal and adolescent outcomes on the SCID in late adolescence. Effect sizes shown are beta for continuous outcomes or eta for dichotomous outcomes. From Pechtel et al. (2012), Shi et al. (2011) and Lyons-Ruth, Brumariu, et al. (2013); Eating disorders and conduct symptoms unpublished.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Severity of Abuse Does Not Mediate the Effect of Early Maternal Withdrawal on Later Borderline Symptoms. Note. Preacher and Hayes bootstrapping test for mediation not significant. See Lyons-Ruth, Bureau, et al. (2013).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Maternal Behavior Profiles Associated with Disorganized-Approach and Disorganized-Avoidant/Ambivalent Infant Classification at 18 Months Note. Mothers of infants with D-Avoidant/Ambivalent attachment behavior exhibited significantly more negative-intrusive behavior (F(1,28) = 6.42, p = .02, R2 = .19) and role confusion (F(1,28) = 4.53, p = .04, R2 = .14). Mothers of infants with D-Approach behavior exhibited significantly more withdrawal (F(1, 28) = 5.23, p=.04, R2 = .14). Maternal communication errors and disorientation were core features that significantly discriminated between mothers of disorganized infants and mothers of non-disorganized infants across both subtypes (see Lyons-Ruth et al., 1999).
Figure 4
Figure 4
Confirmatory Factor Analysis: Four-Factor Model of Adolescent-Parent Interaction. Note. N = 120. Coefficients with asterisks indicate covariances among the latent factors, with associated significance levels (* p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001); coefficients without asterisks indicate the item loadings for the 10 measurement scales on the four latent factors (all were significant at p < .001). Reprinted with permission from Obsuth et al. (2013).
Figure 5
Figure 5
Summary of Outcomes Associated with Maternal Withdrawal.

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