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Attach Hum Dev. 2011 Sep;13(5):451-69. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2011.602245.

Attachment mental states and inferred pathways of development in borderline personality disorder: a study using the Adult Attachment Interview.

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Department of Psychology, Pavia University, Italy.


We report the outcome of an investigation on how specific attachment states of mind and corresponding risk factors related to different DSM Axis I comorbidities in subjects with BPD. Mental representations of attachment in four BPD sub-groups (BPD and Anxiety/Mood Disorders, BPD and Substance Use and Abuse Disorders, BPD and Alcohol Use and Abuse Disorders, and BPD and Eating Disorders) were assessed in 140 BPD subjects using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). In addition to the global attachment picture in which Insecure organized (Dismissing 51% and Enmeshed 35%) and Insecure disorganized categories (40%) were overrepresented, significant differences in attachment category were found between the four BPD sub-groups. Axis I comorbidities corresponded with attachment features on the internalizing/externalizing functioning dimension of the disorder. Furthermore, specific constellations of inferred developmental antecedents and attachment states of mind corresponded differentially with the BPD sub-groups. Implications for developmental research and clinical nosology are discussed.

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