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Psychopathology. 2014;47(1):57-64. doi: 10.1159/000348629. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Patterns of family identification and self-congruence in childhood separation anxiety disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Universität Basel, Basel, Switzerland.



Patterns of identification among family members may differ in families with children with separation anxiety disorder (SAD) as compared with healthy children. However, this has not been explored to date.


The present study examines identification processes in 199 families: 100 families of children with SAD, 43 families of children with other anxiety disorders, and 56 families of nondisordered children, using the Family Identification Test.


Children with SAD and their parents generally identify significantly less with each other and report less desire to be similar to each other than nondisordered children and their parents. Further, children with SAD are less self-congruent than healthy children. There were no significant differences between children with SAD and with other anxiety disorders.


Identification and self-congruence distinguish families of children with SAD from families of healthy children. Future studies should aim to determine the direction of effects over time, as well as to determine the contribution of identification and coherence in explaining SAD after accounting for other factors such as attachment and self-esteem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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