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patrones atipicos de apego

patrones atipicos de apego

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Douglas Barnett and Joan I. Vondra

John Bowlby developed attachment theory, in part, to help explain the mechanisms whereby social experiences beginning in early infancy influence the development of healthy and problematic variants of human personality development. Beginning in the 1940s, attachment theory was applied to understanding toddlers\u2019 immediate and long-term responses to extended (e.g., 10- to 30-day) separations from caregivers and to anomalous conditions such as abandonment and being raised in institutional settings (Bowlby, 1988). From a functional perspective, attachment theory guided changes in policies for minimizing the stresses of young children\u2019s separations from parents during necessary hospital stays, and helped establish guidelines for designing alternate care arrangements for young children who experi- enced loss of their primary caregiver (Bowlby, 1988). Bowlby (1969/1982, 1973, 1980) anchored attachment theory in diverse perspectives from psychology, including psychoanalysis and ethology, as well as cognitive and developmental science.

Attachment theory is rich in descriptions and explanations of human behavior and mental processes, both normative and pathological. Mary Ainsworth expanded the principles and perspectives of attachment theory and contributed a procedure and theory for describing and explaining indi- vidual differences in infant attachments to caregivers (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). From Ainsworth\u2019s perspective, individual differences are categorical\u2014differences in kind rather than amount. Ainsworth and her associates (1978) identified three patterns or styles believed to reflect infants\u2019


coping responses to their caregivers\u2019 interactive styles. One type of attachment was viewed to be \u201csecure,\u201d or Type B. Two categories were viewed to reflect insecure attachments: avoidant, Type A, and resistant or ambivalent, Type C, attachment patterns. Ainsworth\u2019s and Bowlby\u2019s per- spectives have spawned more than 3 decades of productive research on individual differences in attachment patterns. The central tenets of the individual differences theory of human attachment are: (a) infants are pre- disposed to develop patterns of attachment though the process of relating to their primary caregivers, (b) these patterns reflect information (in the form of mental representations) that infants have internalized about how signifi- cant others behave in close relationships and about themselves as elicitors of nurturance from others, and (c) the mental representations of attachment that infants develop generalize to guide and influence their emotional well-being and social interactions beyond the relationship with their pri- mary caregiver. Based on an ethological perspective, Ainsworth and Bowlby believed these processes (i.e., whereby mental representations or schema are derived from experience and guide future interactions) evolved because they improved the likelihood of eliciting care\u2014and therefore survival\u2014 through interpersonal adaptation. Mental models of attachment relations are thought to improve the efficiency of social adaptation by streamlining the monitoring and processing of social information as well as the selection of response strategies.

The analysis of infant patterns of attachment based on Ainsworth and colleagues, system (1978) has alerted researchers to behavioral differences in infancy that appear to capture aspects of individual and interpersonal functioning with significance for subsequent development (Belsky & Cassidy, 1994; Oppenheim, Sagi, & Lamb, 1988; Sroufe, 1983). These analyses pro- vide insights about the relative contributions normative environmental and constitutional factors may make to infant social and emotional development (Belsky & Rovine, 1987; Carlson & Sroufe, 1995; Fox, Kimmerly, & Schafer, 1991; Goldsmith &Alansky, 1987; Sroufe, 1985).

Exploring the Exceptions

Once a category system exists, there is a tendency to observe all cases to be within that scheme even when, in actuality, some cases only \u201cfit\u201d approximately and other cases are ignored exceptions. Yet it is precisely examination of ex- ceptions to the classification system and to the principles on which that system is based that permits scientists to modify models, schema, and theory to reflect more accurately the full range of observations comprising a phenomenon and the functional significance of observed variations in expression. Important

contributions have been made by attending to attachment patterns inconsis-
tent with Ainsworth\u2019s original categorizations.

Since the late 1970s, researchers have identified infants thought to have insecure attachments, but whose patterns of attachment did not fit within Ainsworth\u2019s tripartite classification system (Crittenden, 1985; Egeland & Sroufe, 1981b; Lyons-Ruth, Connell, Zoll, & Stahl, 1987; Main & Solomon, 1986; Main & Weston, 1981; Sroufe & Waters, 1977). Uncertainty persists, however, about how many different varieties of attachment patterns there are andwhich reflect meaningful variation in functioning and development. Ainsworth argued that although there can be only one form of secure attachment, innumerable patterns of insecure attachment exist (Ainsworth & Marvin, 1995). Understanding the full variety of attachment patterns and linking each to experiential precursors, hypothesized mental representa- tions, and developmental sequelae is the very foundation of attachment theory. Such information has implications for personality development in general, because research on infant-parent attachment styles continues to inspire the study of human personality. For instance, investigators have iden- tified attachment classifications among older age groups that are believed to be analogous to Ainsworth\u2019s system for classifying infant attachment (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Crittenden, 1992a; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Lynch & Cicchetti, 1991; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985). Thus, models of attachment and personality functioning in other developmental periods have borrowed extensively from the body of infancy research.

Examination of the behavior and development of infants and young children whose attachment relationships didnot fit the traditional Ainsworth system have been conductedprimarily with children who fall at the extremes of reproductive risk and/or caregiving casualty (Sameroff & Chandler, 1975). Research on these exceptional cases has extended understanding of the possible influence both contextual conditions and child factors have on indi- vidual development and emergent relationship patterns, but also the devel- opmental significance of behavioral differences in patterns of relating to important others (Cicchetti & Greenberg, 1991; Crittenden, this volume; Jones, 1996; Jones, Main, & del Carmen, 1996).

This monograph brings together data and theory from several differing conceptualizations of \u201catypical\u201d patterns of attachment, ranging from varia- tions on subgroups of \u201cdisorganized\u201d attachments (Lyons-Ruth, Bronfman, & Parsons, this volume; Vondra, Hommerding, & Shaw, this volume) to conceptual and methodological issues related to a disorganized category (Crittenden, this volume; Pipp-Siegel, Siegel, & Dean, this volume), to alternative conceptualizations of atypical attachments in infancy and early childhood (Atkinson et al., this volume; Crittenden, this volume). Atypical patterns of attachment are defined as sets of behaviors identified among


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