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Lynne Hartman is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee:

  • Patricia Linn, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Alejandra Suarez, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Judith Glass-Collins, Ph.D., R.D.T., T.E.P., Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

Attachment patterns, which tend to be stable over time, are passed from one generation to the next. Secure attachment has been linked to adaptive social functioning and has been identified as a protective factor against mental illness. The parents’ state of mind with regard to attachment—as measured with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) (Main, Goldwyn, & Hesse, 2002)—predicts the attachment classification for the infant in Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). Earned-secure individuals have overcome negative childhood experiences to achieve a secure state of mind in adulthood. Earned security, like continuous security, strongly predicts infant security in the next generation. Preoccupied anger is one of the main constructs measured in the AAI that may lead to classification of an insecure, preoccupied state of mind. The current study was an analysis of the narratives of eight individuals whose AAIs indicated mild to high scores for preoccupied anger. All of these individuals have spent considerable energy and resources in grappling with negative childhood experiences. Participants were interviewed regarding how their feelings changed over time and what, if any, events contributed to how their feelings changed. For most participants, the emergence of sustained subjective anger was reported in late adolescence, or even adulthood. Those whose transcripts were judged earned-secure at the time of the study were associated with narratives that indicated progressive gains in Hoffman’s (2008) stages of empathy and Perry’s (1968) scheme for intellectual and ethical development. Reappraisal was identified as a key emotional regulation strategy that contributed to security. Supports for executive function also featured as important factors in the attainment of therapeutic goals. Attachment researchers may be especially interested that Hoffman’s stages emerged as a possible link between metacognitive processes for earned- and continuous-secure individuals alike. In contrast, the study’s findings regarding integrative processes associated with post-formal cognitive development, and mediators for implicit learning as predictors of behavior, suggest that earned security may be a different construct from continuous security. The results of this study hold important implications for treatment and social policy. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/et

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ORCID Scholar ID #0000-0002-0848-165X