Mothers' mental representations and their relationship to mother-infant attachment.Bull Menninger Clin. 1991 Fall; 55(4):454-69.BM
The association between the constructs of mental representation posited by object relations theory and attachment theory was studied through an assessment of adolescent mothers' mental representations and their infants' security of attachment. Forty-two pregnant adolescents were given the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985) to assess their modes of attachment, and the Krohn Object Representation Scale for Dreams (Krohn & Mayman, 1974) to assess object-representations. When the 42 infants were 15 months old, they were videotaped in the Strange Situation (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) with their mothers. Subjects were primarily low-income African-American and Hispanic mothers and infants. As measured by the significant association between classifications on the Adult Attachment Interview and the Krohn scale (p less than .001), the adolescents' attachment and object-representations were highly related. Both attachment and object relations were also significantly related to infant attachment (p less than .001 and p less than .01, respectively). Results suggest that the concepts of mental representation proposed by object relations theory and attachment theory overlap and that mothers' mental representations have heuristic value in predicting mother-infant attachment.