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Attachment and Object-Relations Theory

China, Jacques Lefebvre; (1996) Attachment and Object-Relations Theory. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis investigates associations between Attachment Theory and Psychoanalytic Object-Relations Theory. Major psychoanalytic theories are reviewed (Feud, Klein, Fairbairn, Winnicott, Kohut, Kernberg). Theoretical links are made with Attachment Theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main, Bretherton). The empirical part of the project concerns the comparison of the attachment-based classification created by Main and Goldwyn with an object-relations theory-based instrument ("SCORS") originating in the work of Westen and colleagues. Both classification systems were applied to the Adult Attachment Interview ("AAI") transcripts of a sample of 100 mothers and 100 fathers expecting their first child. The reliability of both sets of ratings was examined on a sub-set of those interviews. Principal-component analysis of the object-relations measure revealed that a single-factor solution was most applicable to SCORS ratings. Univariate analyses demonstrated that two aspects of SCORS (Affect-Tone and Capacity for Emotional Investment) were most strongly related to the adult- attachment classification. Overall, there was a very significant commonality between object-relations ratings and the Main and Goldwyn scoring system. Canonical analyses revealed that probabla-experience and current-state-of-mind with regard to attachment were linked with distinct aspects of object-relationships. Object-relations ratings were then used in the prediction of Strange-Situation classification when the child was 1 to 1½ years old. Object-relations ratings were found only weakly to predict Strange-Situation classification and this could be accounted for by the Main and Goldwyn system of classifying Adult Attachment Interviews. The two systems were further compared on a sample of psychiatric in-patients and normal controls. In this group, the scoring system was found to distinguish patients with borderline and non-borderline AXIS II diagnoses better than the Adult-Attachment classification system but correspondence between the two systems remained high. The results are consistent with considering attachment a specific elaboration of object-relations approaches, at least as far as the latter is reflected in the Adult Attachment Interview.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Attachment and Object-Relations Theory
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Psychology; Attachment; Object-Relations Theory
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104812
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