On the Origins of Disorganized Attachment and Internal Working Models: Paper I. A Dyadic Systems Approach

Psychoanal Dialogues. 2012;22(2):253-272. doi: 10.1080/10481885.2012.666147.


Despite important recent progress in understanding disorganized attachment, we still lack a full understanding of the mechanisms of disorganized attachment formation and transmission prior to 12 months. In this paper we lay out our recommendations for the study of the 4-month origins of disorganized attachment. In our subsequent Paper II we report on the results of a large empirical study that was conducted along the lines we recommend in Paper I. Both Papers I and II are based on Beebe, Jaffe, Markese, Buck, Chen, Cohen, Bahrick, Andrews, Feldstein (2010). In Paper I we describe our proposal that a detailed microanalysis of 4-month mother-infant face-to-face communication would further inform our understanding of the process of disorganized attachment formation between mother and infant. Such a microanalysis would allow us to characterize the nature of the 4-month infant's procedural representations, or emerging "internal working models" of attachment.