Attachment in Mothers with Anxiety Disorders and Their Children Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: This study examined adult attachment in mothers diagnosed with anxiety disorders and child-mother attachment in their children. METHOD: Eighteen mothers with Axis I anxiety disorders completed the Adult Attachment Interview and standardized questionnaires. These mothers and their preschool children (n = 20) then participated in the Strange Situation Procedure. RESULTS: All mothers were classified as nonautonomous with respect to attachment, with 78% judged unresolved. When those judged unresolved were reassigned to their alternate categories, the proportion of nonautonomous mothers was 61%. Eighty percent of the children were classified as insecurely attached, with 65% judged disorganized. When those judged disorganized were reassigned to their alternate categories, the proportion of insecurely attached children was 55%. Sixty-five percent of the children matched their mother's attachment classification. Mothers of securely attached children reported fewer recent life events, fewer depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of parenting competence than mothers of insecurely attached children. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that attachment measures can be applied to anxious populations. The high rate of insecurity among offspring of anxious mothers indicates a need for longitudinal studies of these children.


  • Swinson, Richard

publication date

  • October 1994