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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;50(8):931-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02075.x. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

An exploratory study of the association between reactive attachment disorder and attachment narratives in early school-age children.

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Section of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow, Scotland.



To explore attachment narratives in children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder (RAD).


We compared attachment narratives, as measured by the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task, in a group of 33 children with a diagnosis of RAD and 37 comparison children.


The relative risk (RR) for children with RAD having an insecure attachment pattern was 2.4 (1.4-4.2) but 30% were rated as securely attached. Within the RAD group, children with a clear history of maltreatment were more likely to be Insecure-Disorganised than children without a clear history of maltreatment.


Reactive attachment disorder is not the same as attachment insecurity, and questions remain about how attachment research informs clinical research on attachment disorders.

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