Attachment organization and familial overinvolvement for adults with serious psychopathological disorders

Mary Dozier, Andrea L. Stevenson, Spring W. Lee, Dawn I. Velligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Forty adults with serious psychopathological disorders were administered the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Attachment strategies were assessed using Kobak's (1989) Q-sort method, which yields scores along the two dimensions of security/anxiety and repression/preoccupation. Expressed emotion was rated for a close family member based on the Five-Minute Speech Sample (FMSS). In addition, premorbid competence was assessed, and subjects completed a psychiatric symptom inventory. Subjects who used more extreme secondary attachment strategies (whether preoccupied or repressing) were more likely to have family members who were overinvolving. Symptom inventories revealed greater symptom reporting by individuals who relied more on preoccupied than on repressing strategies and by individuals who were in high expressed emotion families. Higher levels of premorbid competence were associated with more secure attachment strategies. These findings are consistent with a transactional model of relationships whereby the attachment strategies of these adults affect the involvement of their family members, which in turn further perpetuate behaviors associated with their attachment strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-489
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Attachment organization and familial overinvolvement for adults with serious psychopathological disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this