Dissociation : Vol. 5, No. 4, p. 196-204 : Disorganized/disoriented attachment in the etiology of the dissociative disorders
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It has been suggested that multiple personality disorder (MPD) may be seen as an attachment disorder, related to the process of detachment (Barach, 1991). To think in terms of disorganized/disoriented (D) attachment seems a better way of conceptualizing not only MPD, but all the dissociative disorders in relation to difficulties experienced in early attachment relationships. This paper reviews recent findings concerning D (disorganized/disoriented) attachment in infants and its correlates in unresolved parental traumas (quite often, losses through death of significant others). It is proposed that D attachment in infancy may lead to increased vulnerability to dissociative disorders via a linking mechanism proposed by Main and Hesse (1990, 1992): parental frightened and/or frightening behavior. Mothers of dissociative patients were reported much more often than mothers of other psychiatric patients to have suffered the loss through death of a significant other in the two years before-two years after the patient's birth. This finding supports the hypothesis that many dissociative patients may have been infants attached in a disorganized/disoriented way to at least one attachment figure.