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The Role of Attachment and Reflective Functioning in Emotion Regulation

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... Secure attachment has been shown to be associated with fewer difficulties with emotion regulation, whereas individuals with insecure attachment patterns, such as anxious or avoidant attachment, tend to encounter difficulties with emotion regulation (Mikulincer and Shaver 2016;Morel and Papouchis 2015;Pepping et al. 2013). Research has demonstrated that both attachment anxiety and avoidance are associated with difficulties in emotional awareness (Morel and Papouchis 2015). ...
... Secure attachment has been shown to be associated with fewer difficulties with emotion regulation, whereas individuals with insecure attachment patterns, such as anxious or avoidant attachment, tend to encounter difficulties with emotion regulation (Mikulincer and Shaver 2016;Morel and Papouchis 2015;Pepping et al. 2013). Research has demonstrated that both attachment anxiety and avoidance are associated with difficulties in emotional awareness (Morel and Papouchis 2015). Further, in prior research, attachment anxiety predicted lack of appropriate strategies for emotion regulation and poor impulse control, while avoidant attachment was correlated with lack of emotional clarity and nonacceptance of negative emotions (Morel and Papouchis 2015). ...
... Research has demonstrated that both attachment anxiety and avoidance are associated with difficulties in emotional awareness (Morel and Papouchis 2015). Further, in prior research, attachment anxiety predicted lack of appropriate strategies for emotion regulation and poor impulse control, while avoidant attachment was correlated with lack of emotional clarity and nonacceptance of negative emotions (Morel and Papouchis 2015). Given their association with cognitions, emotions, and behaviors, attachment styles can have both positive and negative effects on mental health (Mikulincer and Shaver 2016). ...
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Undergraduates frequently report exposure to stressful life events which may negatively impact mental health. The current study examined associations among attachment style, depression, and meaning made, and tested both direct effects and indirect effects through emotion regulation difficulties. Undergraduates (N = 336) who reported having experienced stressful and/or potentially traumatic events completed measures through an online survey. More than half of participants (64%) were female, with a mean age of 19.26 years. In both models, higher attachment anxiety and higher attachment avoidance were significantly associated with greater difficulties with accessing emotion regulation strategies, which in turn were related to higher depression symptom severity and lower meaning made. Lack of emotional awareness also partially explained the associations between attachment avoidance and outcomes in both models. Difficulties in engaging in goal-directed behavior partially explained the associations between attachment anxiety and meaning made, but not depression symptom severity. Our results suggest certain emotion regulation strategies may be key mechanisms through which individuals with high attachment anxiety or avoidance may reduce the potential negative mental health impact that stressful life events may have.
... Furthermore, it may help mothers feel less negative and, as a result, they might implement adaptive cognitive strategies and modifications and modulate the intensity and frequency of their emotional responses (Alonso-Alberca et al., 2020;Pace et al., 2019a, b;Tamir, 2009). Morel and Papouchis's (2015) study involving a group of adult participants suggested that secure attachment style is important to the etiology of adequate emotion regulation as well as to reflective functioning. In other words, adequate internal working models may facilitate mothers' uses of appropriate strategies for emotion regulation and, consequently, promote their abilities to tune into themselves and others. ...
... From this model seems to emerge the finding that both dysfunctional forms of attachment can be considered related to lack of reflective functioning, but the cognitive reappraisal dimension of emotion regulation represents a protective factor between both the anxious and dismissing attachment styles and reflective functioning. This model, in line with the literature (Fonagy & Bateman, 2016;Morel & Papouchis, 2015), may suggest that strategies related to cognitive control of emotion regulation could help mothers develop adequate reflective functioning despite dysfunctional attachments. In other words, it is possible that cognitive control of positive emotions can push mothers to develop sufficient mentalization functions and skills. ...
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In the present study, we explored the relationships between attachment styles, reflective functioning, and dimensions of emotion regulation in mothers of children diagnosed with combined type of ADHD. Participants were 336 mothers, 168 with children diagnosed with ADHD and 168 with children without any diagnosis. Preliminary results showed that mothers of children with ADHD had slightly lower levels of reflective functioning and cognitive reappraisal than mothers of children without ADHD did. Moreover, mothers of children with ADHD reported lower levels of secure attachment and a slightly higher levels of dismissing and anxious attachment than mothers of children without ADHD did. Focusing on the group of mothers of children with ADHD, the results showed that anxious and dismissing attachments were negatively associated with reflective functioning and that cognitive reappraisal partially mediated the relationship between the two attachment styles (anxious and dismissing) and reflective functioning. Theoretical and practical implications are provided.
... The relationships between romantic attachment and emotion regulation, as well as with dyadic coping, have received empirical support in literature. More precisely, both dimensions of insecure romantic attachment (i.e., attachment anxiety and avoidance) were found to be related to difficulties in emotion regulation (e.g., Guzmán- González et al. 2016;Han 2010;Marganska et al. 2013;Morel and Papouchis 2015) and general coping (e.g., Myers and Vetere 2002;Pascuzzo et al. 2013). To our knowledge, only one study has explored the empirical link between romantic attachment and dyadic coping (Kardatzke 2009). ...
... This is consistent with our hypotheses and supports the literature on attachment, which stipulates that individuals with high attachment anxiety and/or attachment avoidance have difficulties with the general process of regulating their own emotions (Mikulincer and Shaver 2003;Shaver and Mikulincer 2007), which lead to the use of inadequate coping strategies . In fact, several recent studies attest to the positive relationship between insecure romantic attachment and difficulties in emotion regulation (e.g., Guzmán-González et al. 2016;Han 2010;Marganska et al. 2013;Morel and Papouchis 2015) as well as with coping (e.g., Myers and Vetere 2002;Pascuzzo et al. 2013). However, given that much of the existing research has been conducted with general coping (for an exception, see Kardatzke 2009), this study extends past research by demonstrating direct and/or indirect association between insecure romantic attachment and poor dyadic coping strategies. ...
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Insecure attachment is believed to play a fundamental role in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). In fact, the quality of parent–child attachment relationships has become an emerging topic attracting a growing number of theoretical and research contributions in the field of NSSI. However, despite these considerable advances in the scientific study of NSSI, progress pertaining to investigating the quality of romantic attachment relationship is lacking. In an effort to expand current knowledge, the present study aims to not only explore the relationships between romantic attachment and NSSI, but also to explore the mechanisms by which these two variables relate by examining the mediating role that emotion regulation and dyadic coping might play in this relationship. Participants consisted of 797 (81.9 % female) university students, all of whom were involved in a romantic relationship for at least 6 months and between the ages of 17 and 25. Results revealed that although difficulties in emotion regulation mediated the relationships between romantic attachment insecurity (i.e., attachment anxiety and avoidance) and NSSI, dyadic coping was not found to be a significant mediator. These results highlight the importance of attachment security and internal processes to manage stress in the prevention of NSSI.
... Cognitive reappraisal is linked to healthier outcomes, as it involves reframing the associations between a situation and the feelings attached to it rather than the strategy of expressive suppression, which prevents the emotion from being felt and increases a sense of cognitive dissonance, and emotional masking (Cutuli, 2014). Attachment is often correlated with both emotion regulation strategies, showing that more securely attached people generally have higher levels of cognitive reappraisal rather than expressive suppression (Brenning & Braet, 2013;Cassidy, 1994b;Gross & John, 2003;Malik, Wells, & Wittkowski, 2015;Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Waters & Thompson, 2016). ...
... demonstrated that though positive emotions such as happiness and excitement were positively correlated with Cognitive Reappraisal, those with high levels of Emotional Suppression did not show high correlation to either positive or negative emotions.Attachment dimensions have been shown to be significantly related to those of emotion regulation(Cassidy, 1994a), and often both are evaluated as some of emotion regulation's variability can be accounted for by attachment. The attachment avoidance dimension has been shown to be very positively correlated with ES (Brandão, Schulz,Gross, 2012), while those with high levels of attachment anxiety tend to overexpress their emotions and not use either emotion regulation strategy effectively(Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Simpson & Rholes, 2017). Attachment working models are believed to underpin emotion regulation, with securely attached individuals ...
Article
Attachment Theory suggests interaction with caregivers in childhood impacts relationships and health throughout our lives (Bowlby, 1965, 1969, 1971), leaving many who have experienced insecure attachment with an inability to form healthy relationships or cope with stressors throughout their lifespan (Holmberg, Lomore, Takacs, & Price, 2011). Horses have interacted with humans for over 12,000 years (Hintz, 1995), holding multiple roles in human society, most relying on observation by humans of equine behavior, and formation of a human-equine bond (Hamilton, 2011). More securely attached humans tend to more readily decipher non-verbal cues, positively affecting their felt security and internal working model of Attachment (Bachi, 2013). Interacting with horses, who provide significant non-verbal cues, may provide an opportunity to enhance this process, providing useful feedback and insight. This study aimed to evaluate if a single ground-based encounter with a horse could bring about changes in women participants’ reports of Attachment and Emotion Regulation. It was hypothesized that participants would move towards more secure dimensions of Attachment and Emotion Regulations after the encounter with the horse and that behavioral interactions with the horse would differ for those with differing dimensions of Attachment or Emotion Regulation. This study incorporated a repeated measures mixed methods design, one twenty-eight year old Standardbred mare, “Wicky” Long Wick, interacted with 22 female university students with minimal prior equine experience aged 18-30. Participants completing a demographic and screening questionnaire along with the Experiences in Close Relationships –Revised (ECR)(Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) and Emotion Regulation Questionnaires (ERQ)(Gross & John, 2003) at baseline, then the ECR and ERQ again both immediately prior to and immediately following encounter with the horse. The encounter was videotaped and included meeting, grooming, leading, and goodbye. Statistical analyses were completed using SPSS including paired t-tests and correlations. Videotape was evaluated, coded, and included in both quantitative and qualitative data analyses. Participants were recruited and participated in the study over the period of one calendar year. A significant decrease in Attachment anxiety was shown after encountering the horse (t(21)=2.915, p=.008 (M .237364, SD= .381941)), and significantly less time was spent between the horse and participant at goodbye than at meeting (t (21)=2.751, p=.021 (M 42.045, SD= 71.67)), particularly for those with insecure dimensions of Attachment (t (15)= 2.814, p=.013 (M= 45.75, SD=65.03)). Participants with insecure dimensions of Attachment showed significant increases in cognitive reappraisal after encountering the horse (t(14)= -3.732, p=.002 (M -.411, SD= .4266)), and the greatest decreases in Attachment Anxiety (t(14)=3.364, p=.005 (M .307, SD= .354)). The findings suggest interaction between horses and people differs along Attachment dimensions and show some support for positive changes in humans for both Attachment and Emotion Regulation dimensions after interaction with a horse.
... Emotion regulation has also been well associated with RF theoretically and empirically (e.g., Fonagy et al., 2002;Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Rothschild-Yakar et al., 2019;Schwarzer et al., 2021). The ability to mentalize has a significant role in modulating emotion regulation capabilities (Schwarzer et al., 2021). ...
Article
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The literature has established the associations between reflective functioning (RF), affect regulation, and the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms. We aimed to examine the mediator role of difficulties in emotion regulation on the relationship between RF and BPD symptoms in a non-clinical adolescent sample. The sample was composed of 546 Turkish adolescents with a mean age of 16.18 ( SD = 1.67). Of the sample, 62.5% were adolescent girls and 37.5% of boys. In the present cross-sectional research, volunteer adolescents along with parental permission filled out Socio-Demographics Form, Reflective Functioning Questionnaire, Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, and Borderline Personality Inventory on paper during counseling sessions at schools. Process macro was used to conduct mediation analyses. Compromised RF was related to an increase in adolescent borderline personality symptoms, both directly and indirectly via difficulties in emotion regulation. In this non-clinical adolescent sample, a lower degree of certainty, as well as a higher degree of uncertainty about the mental states, were related to a propensity to emotion dysregulation, specifically experiencing emotions less clearly, approaching emotions impulsively, and facing emotions without a modulation strategy. These associations were in turn related to an increase in borderline personality symptoms. The present research results suggest RF and emotion regulation problems as one field of early intervention for adolescents with BPD symptoms.
... Due to its specific characteristics, reflective functioning is often considered as a mediator in the association between insecure adult attachment and psychological distress or personality factors (see for example Badoud et al., 2018;Hayden et al., 2019;Nazzaro et al., 2017). That is, because mentalizing allows individuals to perceive, label, and consider emotions as the basis of behaviours , it is associated with important psychological abilities, including distress tolerance, interpersonal skills, and emotion regulation (Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Schultheis et al., 2019). These associations may explain how and why higher reflective functioning may contribute to greater well-being (Borelli et al., 2018). ...
Article
Objective: Subjective well-being is a crucial variable for mental health practitioners. This study examines the influence of therapists’ attachment dimensions and self-reported reflective functioning on their perceived well-being. Further, it examines if reflective functioning mediates the association between attachment insecurity and well-being. Method: A total of 416 experienced psychotherapists were enrolled in this cross-sectional study, and completed self-report measures of attachment insecurity, reflective functioning, and well-being. We tested the hypothesized mediation model with path analysis that examined indirect effects. Results: Both attachment anxiety and avoidance dimensions had a significant negative association with perceived well-being with small to medium effects. “Certainty” in reflective functioning had a small positive effect on therapist well-being. Reflective functioning mediated the association between insecure attachment dimensions and well-being, suggesting that therapist's lower ability to mentalize may partially account for the effects of higher attachment insecurity on lower well-being. Conclusion: The well-being of psychotherapists with greater insecure attachment may deserve special attention, and therapists’ mentalizing capacities may be targeted by researchers and trainers as a core ability to be cultivated in order to preserve therapists’ professional and personal resources.
... The Brief Reflective Function Interview (BRFI [40]) has been shown to be a reliable and valid screening measure of reflective functioning [41,42]. It was designed to detect severe impairments in mentalizing as a resource-friendly alternative to the Adult Attachment Interview [43] on which it is based [41,44]. The interview consists of 10 questions (demand and permit questions) exploring the respondent's relationship with one of their parents. ...
Article
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Mentalizing describes the human ability to comprehend one’s own and others’ mental states and is seen as one of the core competencies of psychotherapists. Current research has emphasized the importance of both early dyadic attachment as well as broader sociocultural environmental input on the development of mentalizing. This study investigates whether mentalizing skills, operationalized via reflective functioning (RF), might be influenced by training and working conditions. This study was a matched case-control comparison, cross-sectional study. RF was assessed in a total of 10 psychotherapy trainees working in private practice at the beginning (group A; n = 5) and end (group B; n = 5) of their psychotherapy training (training association: Gestalt Therapy, Institute of Integrative Gestalttherapy Vienna) and in a total of 40 health professionals (institution: General Hospital Vienna—Social Medical Center South, Vienna, Department of Psychiatry, acute psychiatric ward) at the beginning of (group C; n = 20) and without (group D; n = 20) mentalization based therapy training. The participants differed from each other regarding their training, but participants of the same institution were matched. RF scores were significantly higher in group A and B than in group C and D (A,C: p = 0.0065, Odds Ratio (OR): 0.0294; A,D: p = 0.0019, OR: 0.0132; B,C: p = 0.0065, OR: 0.0294, B,D: p = 0.0019, OR: 0.0132). RF scores were not significantly different among groups A and group B (A,B: p > 0.9999) or between groups C and D (C,D: p = 0.6050). The current study suggests that mentalizing skills might be rather slow to improve by training, but that they might be influenced by the context.
... Burk et al. (2011) suggested that since most crimes occur due to poor self-control and lack of empathy, it is feasible that the ability to understand the inner thoughts and feelings of oneself and others could increase prisoners' ability to control themselves, and their behaviors, thoughts, and emotions (Morosan et al., 2020). Studies have also shown that distancing oneself from the needs and feelings of others or the inability to consider the impact of one's own behavior on others is highly associated with delinquent behaviors, difficulties in emotional regulation, conduct disorder, and antisocial behaviors (Abi-Habib et al., 2020;Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Protic et al., 2020). In Iran, the number of prisoners increased sevenfold between 1980 and 1997, while the country's population increased by only 55% during these years (Article, 2017). ...
Article
Reflective functioning is the process of reflecting on the thoughts and feelings of oneself and others and is foundational to healthy human relationships. The 54-item Reflective Function Questionnaire (RFQ) is a self-report measure that assesses reflective functioning, initially developed while studying individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) . The purpose of the present study was to translate the RFQ from English to Persian and evaluate its reliability and validity among Iranian prisoners. The sample of this study included 509 (455 men and 54 women) Iranian prisoners. Findings confirm the translated measure had acceptable face and content validity. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) confirmed two dimensions of certainty (RFQ-c) and uncertainty (RFQ-u) of reflective functioning. The correlation analysis showed positive relationships between the dimensions of the RFQ and the borderline personality symptoms questionnaire and the emotional dissatisfaction questionnaire. Correlation analysis also showed negative associations between the dimensions of the RFQ and the Toronto Basic Empathy Scale (BES) and the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) questionnaire, confirming the concurrent validity of the RFQ. The Cronbach’s alphas of the RFQ-c and RFQ-u subscales were .69 and .7 respectively, which demonstrated relatively acceptable internal consistency. The results of the analysis demonstrated that the translated RFQ had desirable psychometric properties for evaluating reflective function among Iranian prisoners.
... Across development, other experiences may support the development of mentalization, including significant relationships with peers, teachers or other adults (Luyten, Nijssens, Fonagy, & Mayes, 2017). Since mentalization contributes to a sense that others and oneself are understandable and predictable, this ability is crucial for affective regulation and the development of a coherent self (Fonagy et al., 2002;Morel & Papouchis, 2015). ...
Article
Background: Childhood maltreatment impacts parenting and has intergenerational consequences. It is therefore crucial to identify clinically responsive resilience-promoting factors in pregnant women and expecting men with history of childhood maltreatment. Mentalization, or reflective functioning, appears as a promising concept to understand risk and resilience in the face of childhood maltreatment. Objective: This study evaluated the multivariate relationship between exposure to childhood maltreatment, reflective functioning, psychological symptoms and parental attitude in expecting parents. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-five pregnant women and 66 expecting fathers completed self-report assessment measures of childhood trauma, reflective functioning, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, parental sense of competence and antenatal attachment. Twenty-eight percent (n = 85) of the community sample reported personal histories of childhood maltreatment. Results: Structural equation modeling indicated that reflective functioning (a) partially mediated the association between childhood maltreatment and psychological symptoms during pregnancy and (b) independently predicted participants' perception of parental competence and psychological investment toward the unborn child. Conclusion: Overall, this study provides empirical evidence of the protective role of reflective functioning during the prenatal period in parents with histories of childhood maltreatment.
... Usually, a mean score of 5 is considered the norm in nonclinical samples. However, two recent studies found mean scores of 3 to 4 in nonclinical samples (Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Rosso, Viterbori, & Scopesi, 2015). Thus, the mean score of the nonclinical group in our study (M ϭ 4.0; SD ϭ 1.7) is relatively low, but comparable to findings in other studies. ...
Article
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Mentalization or Reflective Functioning (RF), that is, the ability to reflect upon ones’ own and others behavior in terms of underlying mental states, plays an important role in parenting behavior and children’s socioemotional development. RF has been suggested to be impaired in psychopathology, and thus maternal psychopathology after birth, such as postpartum depression (PPD) and Personality Disorder (PD), may not only affect the mother’s socioemotional functioning but also the development of the child. However, little is known about mentalizing abilities of PPD mothers, and mothers with PPD and comorbid PD. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate RF in women presenting symptoms of PPD (n = 13), and women with PPD symptoms and comorbid PD (n = 14) compared with a nonclinical group (n = 52). Women were interviewed with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) before birth (nonclinical group), and 9–12 weeks after birth (clinical groups), and RF was assessed with the Reflective Functioning Scale applied to the AAI. ANCOVA results revealed no significant differences in mean RF abilities among the 3 groups. Possible reasons for the lack of differences in RF between the 3 diagnostic groups are discussed.
... As such, self-injurious thoughts and behaviours are considered maladaptive emotion regulation strategies (e.g., Linehan, Bohus, & Lynch, 2007;Nixon & Heath, 2009). Previous research has identified a vast array of factors that are associated with deficits in emotion regulation, such as insecure romantic attachment (e.g., Guzmán-González, Lafontaine, & Levesque, in press;Morel & Papouchis, 2015), poor romantic caregiving abilities (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2012), and low sexual satisfaction (i.e., Rellini, Vujanovic, Gilbert, & Zvolensky, 2012;Rellini, Vujanovic, & Zvolensky, 2010). Despite this, it is equally imperative to also identify the risk factors and correlates of specific emotion regulation strategies themselves, as certain ones -such as self-injury -pose life-threatening consequences. ...
Article
Attachment theory is considered an explanatory framework for understanding non-suicidal self-injury. Despite theoretical postulations, few studies have examined links between romantic attachment and its interconnected systems (the caregiving and sexual systems) and self-injury. This study investigated whether self-injurious thoughts and behaviours could be predicted by the functioning of the three systems. Two-hundred and sixty-three young adults participated in the study. Results revealed that participants endorsing self-injurious thoughts experience greater attachment anxiety and avoidance, controlling and compulsive romantic caregiving behaviours, and lower sexual satisfaction than participants with no thoughts. Conversely, findings indicate that the behavioural systems did not predict self-injurious behaviours. Such findings suggest that dimensions of the three interrelated behavioural systems hold unique roles in understanding young adult self-injurious thoughts, and that the constructs that predict self-injurious thoughts may differ from those that predict self-injurious behaviours.
... RF and emotion regulation are evolutionarily related and partially overlapping variables. They are strongly associated to one another, and past literature has tried to provide different ways of looking at them as well as a way of measuring them (Diamond & Aspinwall, 2003;Heron-Delaney et al., 2016;John & Eng, 2014;Morel & Papouchis, 2015;Shaver & Mikulincer, 2007;Steele & Steele, 2008). However, the ability to regulate emotions is acquired before the ability to reflect upon them, as reflecting requires more mature mental processes. ...
Article
Based on cross-sectional research linking poor reflective functionining (RF) to eating disorders, the current follow-up study tested whether maternal RF would explain the variance of mothers' and children's weight beyond the effects of maternal emotional dysregulation. During pregnancy (Time 1 [T1]), 51 women were administered the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and interviewed using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Seven months after delivery (Time 2 [T2]), mother-baby dyads who remained in the study (n = 44) were videotaped (Feeding Scale) during their feeding interaction. Last (Time 3 [T3]), the weight of the 34 children who were still in the study was collected at 3 years of age. Maternal AAI-RF at T1 did not correlate with the DERS at T1 nor with the quality of the feeding interacions at T2. However, it correlated, significantly, with maternal body mass index (BMI) at T1, r = -.298, P = .034, and marginally significantly with baby's BMI at T3, r = -.296, P = .089. Moreover, multiple regression models showed a trend indicating that maternal AAI-RF might explain the variance of mothers' and children's weight beyond the effects of maternal emotional dysregulation. These findings suggest that working on maternal mentalization might contribute to helping prevent childhood obesity from pregnancy. © 2019 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.
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Patients who have experienced emotional abuse and neglect often develop psychiatric disorders in adulthood. However, whether emotional abuse, neglect, and mentalization abilities relate to one another and the role of possible mediators of this relationship in psychiatric patients are still unknown. We evaluated the potential role of affective temperament as a mediator of the relationship between emotional abuse and neglect and mentalization. We performed a cross-sectional study of 252 adult psychiatric inpatients. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, Mentalization Questionnaire, and Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris, and San Diego Autoquestionnaire (TEMPS-A) were administered. Results showed a significant indirect effect of emotional abuse and neglect on scores on the Mentalization Questionnaire through the TEMPS-A (b = 0.25, 95% confidence interval [0.143-0.375]), demonstrating that affective temperament mediates the relationship among emotional abuse, neglect, and mentalization impairment in psychiatric patients. A careful evaluation of mentalization abilities in patients with psychiatric disorders and who have a history of emotional abuse and neglect is necessary for a better understanding of psychopathology and for the choice of therapeutic strategies.
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The term reflective function (RF) refers to the psychological processes underlying the capacity to mentalize, a concept which has been described in both the psychoanalytic (Fonagy, 1989; 1991) and cognitive psychology literatures (e.g. Morton & Frith, 1995). Reflective functioning or mentalization is the active expression of this psychological capacity intimately related to the representation of the self (Fonagy & Target, 1995; 996; Target & Fonagy, 1996). RF involves both a self-reflective and an interpersonal component that ideally provides the individual with a well-developed capacity to distinguish inner from outer reality, pretend from ‘real’ modes of functioning, intra-personal mental and emotional processes from interpersonal communications. Because of the inherently interpersonal origins to how the reflective capacity develops and expresses itself, this manual refers to reflective functioning, and no longer of reflective-self functioning (see Fonagy, Steele, Moran, Steele, & Higgitt, 1991a), as the latter term is too easily reduced to self-reflection which is only part of what is intended by the concept.
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Given recent attention to emotion regulation as a potentially unifying function of diverse symptom presentations, there is a need for comprehensive measures that adequately assess difficulties in emotion regulation among adults. This paper (a) proposes an integrative conceptualization of emotion regulation as involving not just the modulation of emotional arousal, but also the awareness, understanding, and acceptance of emotions, and the ability to act in desired ways regardless of emotional state; and (b) begins to explore the factor structure and psychometric properties of a new measure, the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). Two samples of undergraduate students completed questionnaire packets. Preliminary findings suggest that the DERS has high internal consistency, good test–retest reliability, and adequate construct and predictive validity.
Article
Epidemiologists and psychoanalysts have been equally concerned about the intergenera‐tional concordance of disturbed patterns of attachment. Mary Main's introduction of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) has provided the field with an empirical tool for examining the concordance of parental and infant attachment patterns. In the context of a prospective study of the influence of parental patterns of attachment assessed before the birth of the first child upon the child's pattern of attachment to that parent at 1 year and at 18 months, the Anna Freud Centre—University College London Parent‐Child Project reported a significant level of concordance between parental security and the infant's security with that parent. In the context of this study, a new measure, aiming to assess the parent's capacity for understanding mental states, was developed and is reported on in this paper. The rating of Reflective‐Self Function, based upon AAI transcripts, correlated significantly with infant security classification based on Strange Situation assessments. The philosophical background and clinical importance of the measure are discussed.
Article
Attachment theory (J. Bowlby, 1982/1969, 1973) is one of the most useful and generative frameworks for understanding both normative and individual-differences aspects of the process of affect regulation. In this article we focus mainly on the different attachment-related strategies of affect regulation that result from different patterns of interactions with significant others. Specifically, we pursue 3 main goals: First, we elaborate the dynamics and functioning of these affect-regulation strategies using a recent integrative model of attachment-system activation and dynamics (P. R. Shaver & M. Mikulincer, 2002). Second, we review recent findings concerning the cognitive consequences of attachment-related strategies following the arousal of positive and negative affect. Third, we propose some integrative ideas concerning the formation and development of the different attachment-related strategies.
Article
Relatively little has been written about one group of infants identified with Ainsworth's "Strange Situation" assessment of infant-parent attachment, those classified insecure/ambivalent. Although virtually all samples contain some insecure/ambivalent infants, these infants are uncommon, comprising 7%-15% of most American samples. Recently developed assessments of attachment in children and adults have identified attachment groups of older individuals thought to parallel the insecure/ambivalent infant group. Empirical work in which insecure/ambivalent individuals are examined as a separate group is reviewed within the context of attachment theory, and a coherent picture emerges of the antecedents (relatively low or inconsistent maternal availability; biological vulnerability) and sequelae (limited exploratory competence) of this group. This picture is used as the basis for additional theoretical proposals, and suggestions for future research are presented.
Article
We present a control theory analysis of adolescents' attachment strategies in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). In Study 1, Q-sort prototypes for secure/anxious and deactivating/hyperactivating strategies were used to differentiate between Main and Goldwyn's AAI classifications. In Study 2, we examined how AAI strategies were associated with emotion regulation during mother-teen problem solving. 4 aspects of mother-teen problem solving (dysfunctional anger, support/validation, avoidance of problem solving, and maternal dominance) were used to predict teens' AAI strategies. Teens with secure strategies engaged in problem-solving discussions characterized by less dysfunctional anger and less avoidance of problem solving. In addition, attachment security showed a curvilinear relation with maternal dominance, indicating that secure teens maintained balanced assertiveness with their mothers. Teens with deactivating strategies engaged in problem-solving interactions characterized by higher levels of maternal dominance and dysfunctional anger. The contribution of attachment strategies to teens' autonomy and to transformations in mother-teen relationships is discussed.
Article
Mothers (N = 125) and their firstborn sons were studied over an 11-month period to examine relations between mothers' representations of their relationships with their children (measured at 15 months by using the Parent Development Interview [PDI]), adult representations of attachment (measured at 12 months by using the Adult Attachment Interview [AAI]), and observed mothering (measured at 15 and 21 months). Results indicate (a) that mothers classified as autonomous on the AAI scored highest on the joy-pleasure/coherence dimension of the PDI and mothers classified as dismissing on the AAI scored highest on the anger dimension of the PDI and (b) that mothers scoring higher on the joy-pleasure/coherence dimension of the PDI engaged in less negative and more positive mothering.
Article
Data from longitudinal attachment studies of families at social risk indicate that disorganized attachment behaviors in infancy are important precursors to later dissociative symptomatology. This early vulnerability is related to patterns of parent-infant affective communication observable by the end of the child's second year. These longitudinal relations do not occur because of the occurrence of later trauma or abuse, which suggests that the quality of primary attachment relationships may partially account for why some people exposed to later trauma develop dissociative symptoms and others do not. It remains unclear whether the early relationship is predictive due to the onset of an internal process of mental segregation in infancy or to enduring patterns of parent-child dialog that continually reinforce the child's segregated and contradictory mental contents.
The Brief Reflective Functioning Interview
  • Rudden M.
  • Milrod B.
  • Target M.
A self-report measure of mentalizing development and preliminary test of reliability and validity of the Reflective Function Questionnaire (RFQ)
  • Fonagy P.
  • Ghinai R.A.
  • Gratz K.L.