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Attachment Security Priming and Domestic Violence: Augmenting Biopsychosocial Treatment of Perpetrators



In spite of an inhospitable policy and funding environment for domestic violence perpetrator treatment, efforts in theory development and practice innovation have persisted. Among them are efforts to understand and treat domestic violence using attachment theory. General principles of attachment theory, as well as concepts more directly connected to violence between intimates and other family members, suggest approaches to working with perpetrators that show promise for emotional growth and behavioral change. One such approach is attachment security priming involving the clinical or experimental activation or evocation of secure attachment style through the use of various prompts or stimuli. Evidence supporting positive results from attachment security priming with potential for addressing domestic violence includes: diminished fear reactions, improved creative problem-solving, reduced psychological pain, persistence in managing uncomfortable feelings, more positive relationship expectations, less attachment anxiety, and modulation of threat-related amygdala reactivity.
Partner Abuse, Volume 9, Number 2, 2018
viewpoint and theory
Attachment Security Priming and Domestic
Violence: Augmenting Biopsychosocial Treatment
Kenneth Corvo, PhD
Syracuse University, School of Social Work, Syracuse, New York
Daniel Sonkin, PhD
Independent Practice, Sausalito, California
Morgan Cooney, MSW
Syracuse University, School of Social Work, Syracuse, New York
In spite of an inhospitable policy and funding environment for domestic violence
perpetrator treatment, efforts in theory development and practice innovation
have persisted. Among them are efforts to understand and treat domestic vio-
lence using attachment theory. General principles of attachment theory, as well
as concepts more directly connected to violence between intimates and other
family members, suggest approaches to working with perpetrators that show
promise for emotional growth and behavioral change. One such approach is at-
tachment security priming involving the clinical or experimental activation or
evocation of secure attachment style through the use of various prompts or stim-
uli. Evidence supporting positive results from attachment security priming with
potential for addressing domestic violence includes: diminished fear reactions,
improved creative problem-solving, reduced psychological pain, persistence in
managing uncomfortable feelings, more positive relationship expectations, less
attachment anxiety, and modulation of threat-related amygdala reactivity.
KEYWORDS: attachment; domestic violence; therapy; criminal justice policy; theory
© 2018 Springer Publishing Company
http:// dx. doi. org/ 10. 1891/ 1946- 6560. 9. 2. 202
The constraints placed on the treatment of domestic violence perpetrators by cur-
rent ideological and policy frameworks have been detailed at length (Corvo, Dutton,
& Chen, 2008; Dutton & Corvo, 2006). These constraints are promulgated directly
through governmental “certifying agencies” via program approval mechanisms or
indirectly through widespread rhetorical assertions or devices (e.g., “Power and Con-
trol Wheel”). In addition, numerous studies of standard model “Duluth-type” inter-
ventions with perpetrators of domestic violence have found little or no positive effect
on violent behavior (Dutton & Corvo, 2006). The typical program for these offenders
is same-sex, group psychoeducational, sometimes blended with elements of cogni-
tive behavioral treatment, of variable duration, with content emphasizing “account-
ability” and feminist gender relations (Corvo et al., 2008; Edleson, 1996; Eisikovits
& Edleson, 1989; Feder & Wilson, 2005). These programs are not only limited by
what they mandate but also by what they forbid. In most states, anything that de-
parts from standard Duluth protocols (e.g., couples counseling, links to addiction) is
strongly discouraged or outright forbidden in working with domestic violence per-
petrators. Behind these practice prohibitions lie prohibitions of theory, simply put,
prohibitions of how one should think about causation or risk for domestic violence.
Some of these theories forbidden by state certifying agencies include: family systems
theory, any theories attributing violence to family of origin influences, any links to
psychopathology, or “causality in the past” (Healy, Smith, & O'Sullivan, 1998). In
short, any theoretical perspective that identifies risk factors or causes that might
contravene or undermine the explanatory hegemony of single-cause patriarchy.
In spite of a less than hospitable policy and funding environment, efforts in theory
development and practice innovation have persisted. Given the particular constella-
tions of risk for domestic violence perpetration, attachment theory has shown great
promise as a source for explanatory theory and, potentially, more effective interven-
tions. There is indeed a good measure of empirical support for the role of attachment
problems in the perpetration of domestic violence. Corvo (2006) found in a sample of
domestic violence perpetrators that early life separation and loss events were more
strongly associated with severity of domestic violence perpetration than were expo-
sure to either parental spousal violence or child abuse. In their meta-analysis, Ogil-
vie, Newman, Todd, and Peck (2014) found a pattern of insecure attachment being
associated with domestic violence perpetration. In their comprehensive review, Dut-
ton and White (2012) concluded, “it appears that broad spectrum attachment disor-
ders play a major role in the constellation of psychological predictors of IPV, and that
attachment theory provides a coherent explanation for the organization of diverse
attachment spectrum disorders and for the development of IPV” (p. 479).
What are the elements of attachment theory that are relevant to understanding
domestic violence and what potential does attachment theory have to improve treat-
ment outcomes? The relationship between attachment problems and domestic vio-
lence can be more specific than the relationship between those problems and violence
Attachment Security Priming and Domestic Violence
or criminality in general. The effects of problematic attachment can contribute to risk
for violence or criminality in general via deficits in empathy, self-regulation, or other
mechanisms of prosocial behavior. In addition to those risks associated with violence
in general, domestic violence, by definition, occurring in those primary relationships
where attachment processes are most salient, includes risks (e.g., insecure attach-
ment, jealousy, distancing) associated with violence specific to intimate relationships.
Further, specific behaviors, like stalking, primarily associated with some forms of do-
mestic or intimate partner violence are often directly linked to attachment problems
(MacKenzie, Mullen, Ogloff, McEwan, & James, 2008). Since attachment problems
are associated with domestic violence, how can they be addressed or included in in-
terventions with perpetrators? Sonkin and Dutton (2003) outlined an attachment-
informed psychotherapy approach to working with perpetrators, including a review
of “secure base priming.” However, given the current policy/practice environment, at-
tachment-informed elements in treatment are rare in comparison to standard model
Duluth interventions.
Following a review of attachment theory, including known links to domestic vio-
lence, will be a discussion of recent literature on attachment security priming and
implications for domestic violence treatment.
Bowlby discusses his development of attachment theory in the trilogy (Bowlby, 1969,
1980, 1973). As defined by Bowlby, 1969 (p. 194), attachment is a “lasting psychologi-
cal connectedness between human beings.” In its inception, the framework of attach-
ment theory empirically addressed the same phenomena that fell under the more
psychanalytically-attuned constructs “dependency,” “object relations,” and “separa-
tion/individuation.” That is, those phenomena that correspond to the emergence of a
distinct competent self through bonding and other primary relational processes. At-
tachment theory recognizes psychological connectedness as the bonds that are formed
in primary relationships, specifically between a child and a caregiver. Caregiving
relationships have a lasting influence on a one’s cognitive processes and behavior
throughout the lifespan, specifically in forming primary or intimate relational bonds.
Attachment behavior is demonstrated by showing preference when seeking out or
showing a desire to remain within proximity of a particular caregiver in childhood
and partner in adolescence and adulthood. Examples of such behaviors in childhood
are clinging and following the caregiver, or responding by smiling in the presence or
crying in the absence of the caregiver (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970). Bowlby (1969, 1980,
1973) theorized that the act of being partial to a certain caregiver is not unique to
human beings, but is also similar to imprinting in other nonhuman mammals, thus
advancing ethological evidence that attachment behavior is a product of evolution
and can be claimed as an instinctual process used to protect offspring, particularly in
the early years of development.
Corvo etal.
A child who is presented with a protective and responsive caregiver is most often
on a trajectory to healthy development and interpersonal relationships in adulthood.
Bowlby (1969, 1973, 1980) asserts that attachment is a homeostatic system, or that
attachment behavior is a reactive adjustment to success or failure in reaching goals
(proximity to, and responsiveness of, the caregiver). That being said, a child expe-
riencing responsive and predictable parenting is more secure, while unreliable and
unpredictable parenting styles can set a child on trajectory toward insecurity and
maladaptation. An internalization of the caregiver’s attachment behavior is repre-
sented in the individual’s level of self-competency. Self-competency is threatened
when attachment behavior is unresponsive or erratic, or when there is a substantial
separation from the caregiver. The attachment bond, once established, is relatively
enduring as are the attachment styles that emerge from those formative experiences.
Real or imagined threats to the bond arouse anxiety and anger. The loss of the attach-
ment bond gives rise to anger, sorrow, and grief.
Ainsworth introduced her own theoretical framework of attachment where she
outlines how these threats to the caregiving bond relate to behavior and attachment
styles. Through her research with the strange situation test, she studied attachment
behavior in infants who were left in a “strange” room by their caregiver (Ainsworth &
Bell, 1970; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). From her findings, she coined
three differentiated attachment styles. She termed the first style secure attachment
and identified two types of insecure attachment, avoidant and ambivalent (Ainsworth
& Bell, 1970). An individual who is considered to have secure attachment is said to
have been consistently exposed to one or more caregivers who are warm, present,
and responsive to a child’s needs. Children with insecure avoidant attachment styles
are most likely faced with a type of abandonment from their caregiver occurring
when the children needed support, for example, a caregiver who does not attempt to
hold and soothe the crying infant. Ambivalent attachment occurs when a caregiver
is unreliable and inconsistent in their responsiveness to the child. In this case, the
child may appear highly dependent of his or her caregiver, but then exhibit rejecting
behaviors when engaging with the caregiver.
The emotional development of the individual through the life course and his or
her ability to successfully establish relational bonds is powerfully impacted by the
context of their attachment experiences in early development. Established secure
and insecure attachment styles are not only present in the child–caregiver relation-
ship, but continue into primary relationships formed throughout development. An
individual, then, who is raised by an absent or inconsistent caregiver is more likely to
have problematic patterns of behavior in intimate adult relationships. These include
being oversensitive and anxious when separated from a partner; feeling jealous or
insecure in the relationship; and misunderstanding appropriate levels of both giving
and receiving care. The emotional consequences of disordered patterns of attachment
in the family of origin, then, create a deficit in the individual's ability to respond to,
or to even understand, the expectations and tasks required in their contemporary
intimate relationships.
Attachment Security Priming and Domestic Violence
Not only does attachment theory provide a fertile and intuitively convincing frame-
work for generating ideas about human behavior and relationships, it also provides
a powerful framework for empirical study. Cassidy, Jones, and Shaver (2013) put it
succinctly, “Attachment theory has been generating creative and impactful research
for almost half a century” (p. 1415).
There is a rich but limited literature linking attachment theory to domestic violence
perpetration. A recent PsycINFO search yielded fewer than 25 relevant journal arti-
cles (“attachment theory” × either “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”
screened for perpetration). Curiously, there were more relevant doctoral dissertations
than journal articles, suggesting a redirection of scholarly interest post-doc, perhaps
as a result of new scholars becoming aware of the paucity of research funding. In any
case, findings overall suggest that insecure attachment styles are widely present in
individuals who perpetrate (or for that matter, experience) intimate partner violence
(Ogilvie et al., 2014).
Bowlby (1984) outlined an interpretive protocol of family violence derived from at-
tachment theory, which moves toward a conceptualization of child abuse and spousal
violence as an expression of similar processes. The basic points of his outline are as
follows. The relationships where family violence are commonly found (e.g., parent-to-
child and spouse-to-spouse) are also the central relationships in attachment theory.
Those relationships are concerned with reproduction and survival of offspring, and
therefore are powerfully influenced by evolutionary and genetic forces. Bowlby pro-
poses that anger is functional when it reinforces or re-establishes attachment. Fam-
ily violence then is a distorted and exaggerated version of behavior that has been
evolutionarily adaptive (e.g., to discourage a child from dangerous behavior, to deter
a philandering partner). The roots of distortion and exaggeration of this behavior
begin when the child’s attachment (careseeking) behavior is responded to with ne-
glect, rejection, or anger. The disordered attachment patterns which results (anxious
attachment, overdependency, anger) can continue to the next generation. Violence
between spouses is seen to arise from similar disordered patterns of attachment—
violence used to prevent abandonment or to coerce caregiving behavior.
There is a further conflation of attachment disruptions with family of origin vio-
lence: the exposure to violent aggression in childhood is also predictive of low levels
of attachment security in adulthood, with an increased likelihood of exhibiting ag-
gressive behaviors toward intimate partners (Hare, Miga, & Allen, 2009). A child of
parents in a domestically violent relationship will be faced with unpredictable and
chaotic violence in the home that influences the caregivers’ consistency of responsive-
ness to the child’s physical and emotional needs (Levendosky, Bogat, & Huth-Bocks,
2011). When an abused caregiver is faced with a distressed or anxious child, they
may be unable to respond appropriately. This impairs the caregiving–careseeking
bond leading to disorganized levels of dependency and ultimately insecure styles of
Corvo etal.
attachment in the child that may continue into adulthood. The child’s direct obser-
vation of interparental violence can also create a paradoxical attachment dilemma
where the child simultaneously experiences one attachment figure as a threat to
another. Dysfunctional attachment styles appear to be related to increased levels
of hostility and interpersonal problems in adult relationships (Lawson & Malnar,
2011) and predictors of both the perpetration and victimization of partner violence
(Bélanger, Mathieu, Dugal, & Courchesne, 2015).
The experience of fear and anxiety arising from uncertainty about the dependabil-
ity of a partner can express itself as anger that can escalate to violent behavior. The
pairing of different attachment styles is also associated with an increased risk for in-
timate partner violence. Men with high avoidant attachment styles in relationships
with women who have high anxious attachment are more likely to engage in violent
behavior than are other permutations (Doumas, Pearson, Elgin, & McKinley, 2008).
There has been a discussion in the domestic violence literature of how personality
traits and pathological disorders are related to attachment and aggressive behavior.
Personality features including separation anxiety, trust deficits, and diminished self-
esteem were found to be an explanation of how poor attachment increases risk for
partner violence (Buck, Leenaars, Emmelkamp, & van Marle, 2012). These features
match characteristics of borderline personality disorder, a disorder that has been
specifically linked to anxious attachment styles in adults who exhibit both physical
and psychological violence (Mauricio, Tein, & Lopez, 2007). On the other hand, anti-
social personality disorder is shown to mediate avoidant attachment in adults who
also demonstrate this violent behavior. Some findings suggest that the appearance of
both borderline personality and antisocial personality is a stronger indication of hos-
tility in the intimate partner relationship (Lawson & Brossart, 2013). Confounding
simplistic interpretations of influence, antisocial personality disorder has been found
to be predictive of intimate partner violence in adults with either secure or insecure
attachment styles (Buck, Leenaars, Emmelkamp, & van Marle, 2014). Comparable
research has identified personality features of women who have perpetrated domes-
tic violence and also report low attachment security (Goldenson, Geffner, Foster, &
Clipson, 2007). These women perpetrators tested higher on measurements of anti-
social personality and also present characteristics representative of narcissistic and
histrionic personalities. The complexity of the interaction between attachment styles,
pathological personality characteristics, and domestic violence is receiving continued
attention, as is the relationship between attachment behavior and aggression alone.
Attachment Security Priming
Given the restrictions placed by governmental and quasi-governmental certify-
ing agencies on what is permissible in domestic violence interventions, there are
Attachment Security Priming and Domestic Violence
relatively few openly attachment-based programs. Publicly funded (those programs
receiving state and federal pass-through funding) programs are the most bound by
restrictions on methods and are the least likely to explicitly employ techniques de-
rived from attachment theory.
Sonkin and Dutton (2003) describe an attachment-based approach to working
with domestic violence perpetrators and both continue to advocate for including at-
tachment theory in work with domestic violence perpetrators (e.g., Sonkin, n.d.).
Healy, Smith, and O'Sullivan (1998) reported outcome data on an attachment-based
intervention (Stosny’s Compassion Workshop) that used randomized assignment and
comparison to several Duluth-style programs. The Compassion Workshop produced
substantially greater and longer-lasting reductions in both physical violence and ver-
bal abuse.
In spite of regulatory prohibitions via “batterer” intervention standards promul-
gated by state-certifying agencies (for a more thorough description see Battery Inter-
vention Services Coalition of Michigan, n.d.), attachment theory remains a powerful
source of ideas and approaches to working with domestic violence perpetrators. The
degree to which, and the manner by which, attachment theory is used is unknown—
whether it serves merely as a sensitizing view mitigating against the accusatory
and confrontational aspects of the Duluth model or in a fuller, more integrated psy-
chotherapy. Hints about how widespread the use of attachment theory may be in
working with domestic violence (at least among private practitioners) can be found
in the Psychology Today compendium of therapists where in New York City alone, of
the more than 800 therapists listing “domestic violence” as an issue they work with,
about 130 also list “attachment-based” as a treatment orientation. How or with what
types of clients specifically (victims, perpetrators, children) these therapists work is
Attachment security priming (similar terms: “secure base priming,” “security
priming”) involves the clinical or experimental activation or evocation of secure at-
tachment style through the use of various prompts or stimuli. For example, Car-
nelley and Rowe (2007) describe two methods of priming: (a) participants identified
and then wrote about persons with whom they felt secure; (b) through guided recall,
participants wrote about situations where loved ones came to their aid. Norman,
Lawrence, Iles, Benattayallah, and Karl (2015) showed study participants a series of
photographs of persons showing affection or caregiving behaviors.
What occurs as a result of attachment security priming? A variety of studies
have found that priming attachment security provides generally positive impacts
on: anxiety-based eating (Wilkinson, Rowe, & Heath, 2013); fear reactions in chil-
dren (Stupica, 2013); creative problem-solving (Mikulincer, Shaver, & Rom, 2011);
and psychological pain (Cassidy, Shaver, Mikulincer, & Lavy, 2009). The impact of
attachment security priming may not be straightforward, however, with variations
occurring as a result of the interaction with individual attachment styles.
Attachment security priming can also produce effects that may be more di-
rectly applicable to working with domestic violence perpetrators. Rowe, Shepstone,
Corvo etal.
Carnelley, Cavanagh, and Millings (2016) found that attachment security primes, as
well as self-compassion primes, resulted in participants’ (18–35 years old, both col-
lege and nonstudent) increased willingness to continue mindfulness training, with
concomitant persistence in managing potentially uncomfortable feelings. Carnel-
ley and Rowe (2007) found that attachment security priming produced more posi-
tive relationship expectations, more positive views of the self, and less attachment
anxiety in a sample of college students. In a study of dating couples, Mikulincer,
Shaver, Bar-On, and Sahdra (2014) found that security priming facilitated romantic
partners’ abilities to respond positively to each other, even overriding the effects of
psychological depletion. A neuroimaging study by Norman et al. (2015) found that
attachment security priming could modulate threat-related amygdala reactivity, es-
tablishing a neuropsychological basis for attachment-related improvement in social
threat overreaction.
What we see across these studies is a priming-induced improvement in affect toler-
ance which enables persons to better cope with, or adjust to, complex or stressful
demands. There are several aspects with particular relevance for working with do-
mestic violence perpetrators. Given the high levels of program attrition in domestic
violence treatment, the Rowe et al. (2016) finding of priming-induced greater will-
ingness to continue in mindfulness training suggests a mechanism for improving
ongoing perpetrator participation. The studies which demonstrated positive effects
on relationship functioning point directly to the core of much of what misfires in
intimate relationships where domestic violence is present. Considering the extent
to which insecurity, attachment anxiety, negative expectations, and a self-absorbed
sense of grievance can be attenuated by attachment security priming, it is expected
that better treatment outcomes are possible.
The question remains, how can even a reasonably simple-to-administer interven-
tion that holds promise for solid, positive impacts on domestic violence perpetrators
be implemented within a larger policy–practice milieu hostile to non-doctrinaire ap-
proaches? As with much in this field, the answer may await much-needed and long-
delayed changes in those policies and practices.
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Attachment Security Priming and Domestic Violence
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Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to Kenneth Corvo, PhD,
Syracuse University, School of Social Work, Syracuse, 407 Sims Hall, NY 13244. E-
mail: kncorvo@ syr. edu
Corvo etal.
... Notably, individual differences in attachment (i.e., attachment styles) provide a useful theoretical framework for understanding IPV perpetration and victimization (Corvo et al., 2018;Gibby & Whiting, 2022;Stefania et al., 2021;Velotti et al., 2022). This is because attachment styles shape cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions in relationships (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2019, 2020Shaver et al., 2017). ...
... predictor of IPV perpetration (Corvo et al., 2018;O'Leary et al., 2007). Therefore, it is conceivable that psychological IPV victimization may completely account for the association between insecure attachment and psychological IPV perpetration. ...
... Existing work has suggested individual differences in psychological IPV perpetration (Birkley & Eckhardt, 2015;Dixon & Graham-Kevan, 2011). We focused on attachment insecurity as a risk factor (Corvo et al., 2018;Gibby & Whiting, 2022;Velotti et al., 2022). More importantly, we attempted to clarify the facilitate IPV perpetration and such violent acts may also interfere with cultivating compassion. ...
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PurposeIn this pre-registered research, we tested how attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were related to psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Specifically, we examined the mediating roles of self-compassion and compassionate goals in these associations.Method Available data were collected online from 513 participants (241 men, 272 women) who were currently in dating relationships in Japan. These participants completed a measure of general romantic attachment styles and, then, brought their current dating partners to mind. Subsequently, they completed measures of compassionate goals, self-compassion, and psychological IPV perpetration and victimization in their current dating relationships.ResultsWe tested the saturated mediation model in which we treated attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance as predictors, self-compassion and compassionate goals as parallel mediators, and psychological IPV perpetration as an outcome variable. Multiple mediation analyses indicated that low self-compassion mediated the positive associations between attachment anxiety and psychological IPV perpetration, point estimate = 0.006, 95% CI [0.003, 0.010], and between attachment avoidance and psychological IPV perpetration, point estimate = 0.004, 95% CI [0.002, 0.008]. Furthermore, low compassionate goals mediated the positive association between attachment avoidance and psychological IPV perpetration, point estimate = 0.018, 95% CI [0.010, 0.026]. These indirect effects remained significant even when the influence of psychological IPV victimization and covariates, such as participants’ sex and relationship characteristics, were considered in the model.Conclusion Our findings imply that insecure attachment styles may orient people to be less compassionate toward themselves and their relationship partners and, thus, engage in psychological IPV perpetration.
... Accordingly, security priming has been shown to increase attachment security (Lin et al., 2013), which is associated with balanced self-representation (e.g., Psouni et al., 2015), engagement in constructive coping (Psouni & Apetroaia, 2014), self-compassion, and resilience (Oehler & Psouni, 2019). Corvo et al. (2018) proposed attachment security priming as a possible and effective intervention technique for IPV. Altering IWMs that are negatively predisposed towards the self may enable actual or prospective victims to obtain the skills required to meet attachment needs in ways that are not at the cost of their well-being. ...
... Conforming and building on indirectly relevant findings (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2015;Park, 2016), we found that imagining a secure and supportive relationship lead women to imagine rejecting an abusive relationship. Building on the work of Corvo et al. (2018), our study has contributed to the newly developed concept of including attachment security priming in IPV interventions to obtain better treatment results, and our second study demonstrated its potential effectiveness. ...
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Remaining in an abusive relationship is a strong risk factor for (re)victimization. Due to the relational nature of intimate partner violence attachment theory offers a useful framework for better understanding its dynamics. Within two studies we worked on individual differences regarding imagined attitudes when confronted with intimate partner violence as being the victim. Our first study showed that high level of attachment anxiety is a risk factor for willingness to remain when imagining a hypothetical abusive relationship incidence. The second study presented the effectiveness of security priming in reducing the willingness to remain when imagining being in an abusive relationship and showed that this effect was the strongest in the case of participants with higher levels of attachment anxiety. These findings extend our understanding of the dynamics behind remaining in an abusive relationship and suggest the use of attachment security schemas as an effective technique for inclusion in interventions against (re)victimization.
... However, only a few of those studies have explored the association between the two dimensions of attachment insecurities (anxiety and avoidance) and specific subtypes of psychological abuse as measured by valid and reliable instruments. Filling this gap in knowledge could ultimately help treatment providers develop effective attachment-based interventions that may reduce rates of domestic violence (Corvo, Cooney, & Sonkin, 2017). That was the purpose of our study. ...
... Finally, there has been a growing body of research suggesting secure base priming can reduce attachment anxiety with individuals with insecure attachment (Gillath, 2018). Dutton and colleagues have studied the potential benefits of secure base priming on individuals anger and reactivity (Dutton et al., 2016. Corvo et al. (2017 have likewise proposed utilizing secure base priming as an adjunct to standard batterer treatment. Although this hasn't been tested on a population of perpetrators in treatment, it's effect on the general population shows promise for some perpetrators of domestic violence. ...
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We conducted a survey-based study looking at the associations among attachment insecurities (anxiety and avoidance), relationship functioning, and psychological domestic violence. We looked at three relationship functioning variables (i.e., anger management, communication, and conflict resolution) and three domestic psychological violence variables (i.e., derogation and control, jealous-hypervigilance, and threats-control of space). Data were collected from 76 male and 21 female court-mandated batterers. Participants completed the self-report measures of attachment insecurities, relationship functioning, and psychological domestic violence-related variables. Overall, attachment insecurities were negatively associated with relationship functioning and positively associated with psychological domestic violence outcomes. Among the whole sample, attachment anxiety correlated positively with derogation and control and with jealous-hypervigilance. There were also differential attachment associations by gender. Attachment anxiety correlated positively with threats of controlling space only among men, and with derogation and control and jealous-hypervigilance only among women. Finally, avoidance correlated negatively with communication only among women. Overall, this pattern of results is consistent with Pdf_Folio:910 910
... These experiences of connection and value would then ultimately result in the reduction of societal violence, psychological distress, mental illness, and improvement in other health outcomes by way of stress reduction (DeWall, 2013;Jouriles et al., 2020;Sapolsky, 2004;Yaakobi & Williams, 2016). Experiencing a felt sense of security, facilitated by nonviolent engagement, would increase the likelihood that neuronal pathways in the brain are structured and organized in a manner that would help to increase people's capacity and inclinations for pro-relational activity, as opposed to anti-relational postures (Barbaro & Shackelford, 2019;Corvo et al., 2018;Cozolino, 2014;Forgas et al., 2011;Karremans et al., 2011;Lewis et al., 2000;Osofsky, 1997;Perry et al., 2018;Wallin, 2007). This concept would apply to other aspects of the brain and other systems of the body as well. ...
This article focuses on the psychology of principled nonviolent activism, specifically ideas associated with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence and how they are compatible with attachment theory and related areas of modern neuroscience (e.g., attachment/social neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology). The proposed Kingian Neuro-Relational Theory (KNRT) recognizes King as having a relational development approach to social justice. KNRT offers a way of understanding King’s ideas to aid research and develop strategies for reducing many forms of societal violence, with eventual outcomes of improving mental and physical health via stress reduction, and subsequent creation of a more socially just world. KNRT is an integrative, multidisciplinary approach, incorporating the philosophy of nonviolence, attachment theory, social neuroscience, ecological systems theory, and personalistic philosophy. The theory highlights developmental and clinical implications of moving beyond tactical/pragmatic nonviolent activism (nonviolent direct action) to activism via embracing nonviolence as a principled way of life (nonviolent daily interactions). This theory is building on an earlier project that conveyed how King’s philosophy of nonviolence is related to modern–day diversity and inclusion efforts.
... En todo caso, en el delito analizado en este estudio cuando se habla de víctimas siempre serán mujeres y cuando se habla de agresores o condenados, siempre hombres. 3. En general, evitamos el término estigmatizador -maltratador‖ (Corvo y Johnson 2003;Corvo, Sonkin y Cooney 2018) 10 Por otra parte, se ha procurado la utilización no sexista lenguaje si bien, en ocasiones, ha primado el objetivo de una redacción no farragosa, en un texto ya de por sí repleto de matizaciones. ...
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Mindfulness practice has many mental and physical health benefits but can be perceived as ‘difficult’ by some individuals. This perception can discourage compliance with mindfulness meditation training programs. The present research examined whether the activation of thoughts and feelings related to attachment security and self-compassion (through semantic priming) prior to a mindfulness meditation session might influence willingness to engage in future mindfulness training. We expected both of these primes to positively influence participants’ willingness to continue with mindfulness training. We primed 117 meditation-naïve individuals (84 female; mean age of 22.3 years, SD = 4.83) with either a self-compassion, attachment security or a neutral control prime prior to an introductory mindfulness exercise and measured their post-session willingness to engage in further training. Both experimental primes resulted in higher willingness to engage in further mindfulness training relative to the control condition. The self-compassion prime did so indirectly by increasing state mindfulness, while the attachment security prime had a direct effect. This study supports theoretical links between self-compassion and mindfulness and reveals a causal role for these factors in promoting willingness to engage in mindfulness training. Our findings have implications for improving compliance with mindfulness intervention programs.
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This study investigated the relationship between intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrated by women and the attachment style of each partner in 20 couples in which the male partnerwas in therapy for abusive men. Results confirmed the presence of a relationship between IPV and attachment style. Men with an avoidant attachment reported higher physical abuse victimization and higher use of negotiation during conflict, as revealed by their partner. Women with an anxious attachment reported having inflected more injuries and were less likely to use negotiation during conflict, as revealed by their partner. Findings highlight the relational basis of IPV.
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A predominant expectation that social relationships with others are safe (a secure attachment style), has been linked with reduced threat-related amygdala activation. Experimental priming of mental representations of attachment security can modulate neural responding, but the effects of attachment-security priming on threat-related amygdala activation remains untested. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the present study examined the effects of trait and primed attachment security on amygdala reactivity to threatening stimuli in an emotional faces and a linguistic dot-probe task in 42 healthy participants. Trait attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were positively correlated with amygdala activation to threatening faces in the control group, but not in the attachment primed group. Furthermore, participants who received attachment-security priming showed attenuated amygdala activation in both the emotional faces and dot-probe tasks. The current findings demonstrate that variation in state and trait attachment security modulates amygdala reactivity to threat. These findings support the potential use of attachment security-boosting methods as interventions and suggest a neural mechanism for the protective effect of social bonds in anxiety disorders.
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We argue that human attachment encompasses a broad spectrum of attachment insecurities including fearful and preoccupied attachment style, negative emotionality (NEM), and borderline personality organization (BPO). These, in turn, have a developing literature to link them as causative factors for intimate partner violence (IPV) in both adolescents and adults. These broad spectrum attachment disorders constitute the major psychological predictor of IPV. Direct assessments indicate that they increase the likelihood of aggression in adolescents and intimate partner violence in adults. Some of the proposed mechanisms increasing aggression in insecurely attached people include alterations in the appraisal of threat due to an inability to call on memories of parental support and diminished ability to implement affective controls and impulsivity.
Batterer intervention programs are an integral part of any comprehensive approach to domestic violence. However, because intervention programs are relatively new, there is a need for increased communication between programming providers and criminal justice professionals. The latest publication in NIJ's Issues and Practices series, Batterer Intervention: Program Approaches and Criminal Justice Strategies provides judges, prosecutors, and probation officers with the information they need to better understand batterer intervention and make appropriate decisions regarding programming.
We recently showed that security priming facilitates safe haven support and overrides the detrimental effects of mental depletion (Mikulincer, Shaver, Sahdra, & Bar-On, 2013, Can security-enhancing interventions overcome psychological barriers to responsiveness in couple relationships? Attachment & Human Development, 15, 246-260.). Here, we extend these findings by examining another contextual barrier to caregiving (self-worth threat) and the effects of security priming on secure base support. In Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions based on self-worth threat (yes, no) and security priming (yes, no) manipulations, and their behaviors were video recorded while they interacted with their romantic partner who was disclosing a personal problem. In Study 2, participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions based on depletion (yes, no) and security priming (yes, no) manipulations, and their behaviors were videotaped while they interacted with their romantic partner who was exploring personal goals. In both studies, independent judges rated participants' responsiveness to their partner's needs during the videotaped interaction. Self-esteem threat and mental depletion adversely affected responsiveness to a partner's disclosures. Security priming facilitated responsiveness in both studies and overrode the detrimental effects of mental depletion on secure base support.
The general assumption has been that male batterers from clinical samples were mostly insecurely attached as compared to non-batterers. Recently, a large group was found (39.4 % of batterers in a clinical sample) whose main attachment style was secure. No previous studies have examined specifically the securely attached batterer. The aim of the present study was to test whether antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), but not borderline personality disorder (BPD), traits may be related to battering among securely attached individuals. Twenty-seven securely attached batterers, 45 insecurely attached batterers, 40 securely attached controls, and 22 insecurely attached controls who lived in the Netherlands, filled in self-report measures of personality disorder traits (i.e., antisocial, narcissism, borderline) and attachment (i.e., avoidant and anxious). Results showed that ASPD traits explained 19 % of the variance of battering in securely attached individuals. NPD and BPD traits are related to battering among securely attached individuals when NPD and BPD traits were entered alone in the equation.
Attachment theory provides a useful framework for understanding violence as it acknowledges the importance of both interpersonal and developmental factors. The literature suggests that attachment is associated with violence, but the research evidence is equivocal as to whether insecure attachment was a risk factor for criminality, psychopathology more generally, or both. The current study therefore conducted a systematic review of the literature using meta-analytic methods. Results indicated that insecure attachment was strongly associated with all types of criminality (i.e. sexual offending, violent offending, non-violent offending, and domestic violence) even in the absence of psychopathology. Further sub-group analyses indicated differences in attachment patterns between sexual offenders and violent offenders, for example. The implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.
Attachment theory has been generating creative and impactful research for almost half a century. In this article we focus on the documented antecedents and consequences of individual differences in infant attachment patterns, suggesting topics for further theoretical clarification, research, clinical interventions, and policy applications. We pay particular attention to the concept of cognitive "working models" and to neural and physiological mechanisms through which early attachment experiences contribute to later functioning. We consider adult caregiving behavior that predicts infant attachment patterns, and the still-mysterious "transmission gap" between parental Adult Attachment Interview classifications and infant Strange Situation classifications. We also review connections between attachment and (a) child psychopathology; (b) neurobiology; (c) health and immune function; (d) empathy, compassion, and altruism; (e) school readiness; and (f) culture. We conclude with clinical-translational and public policy applications of attachment research that could reduce the occurrence and maintenance of insecure attachment during infancy and beyond. Our goal is to inspire researchers to continue advancing the field by finding new ways to tackle long-standing questions and by generating and testing novel hypotheses.