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ScientificWorldJournal. 2013 Apr 18;2013:818157. doi: 10.1155/2013/818157. Print 2013.

Reactive attachment disorder in the general population: a hidden ESSENCE disorder.

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Academic Unit of Mental Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Caledonia House, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK.


Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a severe disorder of social functioning. Previous research has shown that children with RAD may have poor cognitive and language abilities; however, findings mainly come from biased, institutionalised samples. This paper describes the characteristics of all children who were given a suspected or likely diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder in an epidemiological study of approximately 1,600 children investigating the prevalence of RAD in the general population. We found that children with RAD are more likely to have multiple comorbidities with other disorders, lower IQs than population norms, more disorganised attachment, more problem behaviours, and poorer social skills than would be found in the general population and therefore have a complex presentation than can be described as ESSENCE. We discuss the clinical and educational implications.

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