Attachment in families with Huntington's disease. A paradigm in clinical genetics.Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Oct; 63(1-2):246-54.PE
Based on the premise that attachment experiences lead to a working model for social relationships throughout life, this study investigates if there is a difference between adult attachment representations in individuals who were brought up by a parent with Huntington's disease (HD), compared to a non-clinical population. Specific events in the parents' disease process, especially those leading to trauma and loss will receive attention.
Using the Adult Attachment Interview, adult attachment representations were investigated in 32 unaffected adults at 50% risk for HD who were raised by an affected parent.
We found a lower percentage of secure attachment representations, a higher percentage of preoccupied representations, and a higher percentage of unresolved/disorganized representations in our sample, compared to a non-clinical population. A relatively late start of the parent's HD career was associated with a secure adult attachment representation. Death of the HD parent before the child's 18th birthday was associated with an unresolved/disorganized adult attachment representation.
Growing up in a family where one of the parents has Huntington's disease appears to affect the offspring's adult attachment representation.
This study can be of relevance for genetic counselling, as well as for counselling and intervention in childrearing matters.