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Mother-infant interaction and the role of attachment in the onset of postnatal mental illness

Jakobsen, Hanne Bonde; (1999) Mother-infant interaction and the role of attachment in the onset of postnatal mental illness. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

No single risk factor has been linked to the onset of postpartum mental illnesses. Most research has centred on postnatal depression and the most predictive risk factors appear to be marital discord, poor social support, and negative childhood representations. These risk factors are all linked to relationship issues and it may therefore be helpful to investigate the onset of postpartum mental illnesses from an attachment perspective rather than to investigate isolated risk factors. In this study the relationship between attachment style, mother-infant interaction, interpersonal relationships, and the onset of postpartum mental illness was explored in a group of 25 mothers who had been or who were currently in-patients on a mother and baby unit. Mothers were found to be less secure compared to a published normative sample. Insecure attachment style was linked to impairments in mothering abilities, single motherhood, and poor relationship with significant others. Mothers' self-rating of interaction did not correlate with observers' ratings which is in accordance with attachment theory. However, there was no evidence to suggest that insecure attachment style or diagnostic category was linked to mother-infant interactions based on observers' ratings. There was also no evidence to suggest that mothers with insecure attachment styles were more likely to be experiencing marital discord compared to mothers with a secure attachment style. Implications of the findings both for theories of the onset of postpartum mental illnesses and for treatment strategies are discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Mother-infant interaction and the role of attachment in the onset of postnatal mental illness
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Health and environmental sciences; Postpartum depression
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107522
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