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Attachment and externalizing disorders: a developmental psychopathology perspective.

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  • 1State University of New York at Stony Brook, NY 11794-8790, USA.



Attachment theory offers an intriguing formulation of protection and risk that ties together key aspects of behavior, emotion, and cognition. The authors present links among attachment status, other developmental domains, and the development and maintenance of externalizing disorders to illustrate an approach to integrating attachment theory and relationship research with the study of externalizing symptoms.


The authors review the literature on the attachment system's theoretical and empirical associations with domains of emotion regulation, social attributions, socialization and moral development, and intergenerational transmission of behavior, as well as with externalizing behaviors.


There are a number of risk and protective connections between attachment security and other developmental processes that are associated with externalizing disorders.


Knowledge of relational processes, in this case, attachment relationships, can contribute to an understanding of etiology, maintenance, and treatment of externalizing disorders.

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