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Unresolved trauma in mothers: intergenerational effects and the role of reorganization.

Iyengar, U; Kim, S; Martinez, S; Fonagy, P; Strathearn, L; (2014) Unresolved trauma in mothers: intergenerational effects and the role of reorganization. Front Psychol , 5 , Article 966 . 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00966. Green open access

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Abstract

A mother's unresolved trauma may interfere with her ability to sensitively respond to her infant, thus affecting the development of attachment in her own child, and potentially contributing to the intergenerational transmission of trauma. One novel construct within the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) coding of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is "reorganization," a process whereby speakers are actively changing their understanding of past and present experiences and moving toward attachment security. We conducted a study of mothers with unresolved trauma, exploring their own attachment classification, attachment outcomes of their children, and the potential effects of reorganization on child attachment. Forty-seven first-time mothers participated in the AAI during pregnancy, and returned with their child at 11 months to assess child attachment using the Strange Situation Procedure. Mothers with and without unresolved trauma were compared. We found that mothers with unresolved trauma had insecure attachment themselves and were more likely to have infants with insecure attachment. However, the one exception was that all of the mothers with unresolved trauma who were reorganizing toward secure attachment had infants with secure attachment. These preliminary findings suggest that mothers who are reorganizing may be able to more sensitively respond to their child's cues, contributing to the development of secure attachment. While our results need to be replicated in a larger cohort, this study is the first to explore the construct of reorganization and its potential relationship with child attachment. If confirmed in future studies, it may provide clinical insight into the intergenerational transmission of insecure attachment within the context of unresolved trauma.

Type: Article
Title: Unresolved trauma in mothers: intergenerational effects and the role of reorganization.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00966
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00966
Language: English
Additional information: PMCID: PMC4150444 © 2014 Iyengar, Kim, Martinez, Fonagy and Strathearn. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: Attachment, Intergenerational transmission, Mother-infant, reorganization, Unresolved trauma
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1449037
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