Attachment and early maltreatment.Child Dev. 1981 Mar; 52(1):44-52.CD
Attachment outcomes of 31 maltreatment cases (extreme neglect or abuse) selected from a total poverty sample of 267 high-risk mothers were compared at 12 and 18 months to a subsample of 33 cases with a history of excellent care. In accordance with the Bowlby-Ainsworth hypothesis, the maltreatment group was characterized by a low proportion of secure attachment (Ainsworth's group B) at 12 months (38% compared to 75% in the excellent care group and 55% in the remaining total sample); however, differences at 18 months were not significant. Specifically, 50% of the cases with a history of neglect were in Ainsworth's group C (anxious/resistant attachment) at 12 months, compared to usual reports of approximately 10% and compared to 21% in the total poverty sample. Patterns of attachment between 12 and 18 months remained stable for the mother-infant pairs in the excellent care group, however, 52% of the mistreated infants changed classifications. For the neglect subgroup there was considerable movement toward Ainsworth's group A (anxious/avoidant attachment) at 18 months and some movement toward group B. An examination of the case histories of mother-infant pairs indicated that changes in attachment between 12 and 18 months were related to changing life events, support from family, and out-of-home care. These findings are highly tentative as were the findings which suggested that secure attachment within the maltreatment group was associated with the presence of a supportive family member, less chaotic life-style, and, in some instances, a more robust infant.