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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2000 Jun;21(3):230-6.

Disturbances of attachment in young children adopted from institutions.

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Department of Psychiatry, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


In this article, the author describes a discrepancy between popular media accounts of reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and its clinical and scientific description. The literature on serious disturbances of attachment in children adopted out of institutions is reviewed. The author concludes that children adopted from institutions are at dramatically increased risk for disturbances, although the majority of such children do not demonstrate problems. Both the duration of deprivation and the postinstitutional caregiving environment seem to be importantly related to outcome. Inhibited/withdrawn RAD is exceedingly uncommon in children adopted from institutions (at least after 1 or more years), but disinhibited/indiscriminate RAD is quite persistent. Long after children become attached to adoptive parents, a number of them continue to exhibit indiscriminate sociability. Three explanations for this divergence of recovery curves are considered. It is likely that future systematic studies will illuminate many areas that are unclear at this time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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