chapter  7
18 Pages

Attachment theory and personality disorders

ByKENNETH N. LEVY, KEVIN B. MEEHAN, CHRISTINA M. TEMES

Bowlby (1977) contended that internal working models of attachment help explain ‘the many forms of emotional distress and personality disturbances, including anxiety, anger, depression, and emotional detachment, to which unwilling separations and loss give rise’ (p. 201). Bowlby postulated that insecure attachment lies at the centre of disordered personality traits, and he tied the overt expression of felt insecurity to speci¿ c characterological disorders. Given that personality disorders are highly prevalent, chronic and debilitating to those who suffer from them, it is imperative to identify etiological factors contributing to the development and maintenance of these disorders. As will be discussed, attachment theory and research provide a comprehensive framework within which personality pathology can be understood. In this chapter we will review the empirical literature on attachment theory, with a focus on assessment and intervention for personality disorders (PDs). Further, we will demonstrate the clinical utility of attachment theory and research for conceptualising personality pathology.