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Attachment disorder behavior following early severe deprivation: extension and longitudinal follow-up. English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team.

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Institute of Psychiatry, London, England.



To examine attachment disturbances and disorder in a sample of children adopted into the U.K. following severe early privation and in a comparison sample of nondeprived, within-country, early-placed adoptees.


The subjects, 165 children adopted from Romania and 52 adoptees from the U.K., were assessed at age 6 years; longitudinal data (at ages 4 and 6 years) were available on the 111 Romanian adoptees placed in U.K. homes before 24 months of age and on all U.K. adoptees. Information on attachment disorder was derived from a semistructured interview with the parent; in addition, data on children's cognitive and social development were assessed using standardized assessments.


Analyses revealed a close association between duration of deprivation and severity of attachment disorder behaviors. In addition, attachment disorder behaviors were correlated with attentional and conduct problems and cognitive level but nonetheless appeared to index a distinct set of symptoms/behaviors. Finally, there was marked stability in individual differences in attachment disorder behaviors and little evidence of a mean decrease over this 2-year period.


The findings offer construct validation for the attachment disorder construct and highlight clinical and conceptual questions that require further research.

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