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Type: Journal article
Title: Separation from parents during childhood trauma predicts adult attachment security and post-traumatic stress disorder
Author: Bryant, R.
Creamer, M.
O'Donnell, M.
Forbes, D.
Felmingham, K.
Silove, D.
Malhi, G.
Van Hoof, M.
McFarlane, A.
Nickerson, A.
Citation: Psychological Medicine, 2017; 47(11):2028-2035
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 0033-2917
Statement of
R. A. Bryant, M. Creamer, M. O'Donnell, D. Forbes, K. L. Felmingham, D. Silove, G. Malhi, M. van Hoof, A. C. McFarlane and A. Nickerson
Abstract: Prolonged separation from parental support is a risk factor for psychopathology. This study assessed the impact of brief separation from parents during childhood trauma on adult attachment tendencies and post-traumatic stress.Children (n = 806) exposed to a major Australian bushfire disaster in 1983 and matched controls (n = 725) were assessed in the aftermath of the fires (mean age 7-8 years) via parent reports of trauma exposure and separation from parents during the fires. Participants (n = 500) were subsequently assessed 28 years after initial assessment on the Experiences in Close Relationships scale to assess attachment security, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was assessed using the PTSD checklist.Being separated from parents was significantly related to having an avoidant attachment style as an adult (B = -3.69, s.e. = 1.48, β = -0.23, p = 0.013). Avoidant attachment was associated with re-experiencing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.31, p = 0.045), avoidance (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.30, p = 0.001) and numbing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.30, p < 0.001) symptoms. Anxious attachment was associated with re-experiencing (B = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.18, p = 0.001), numbing (B = 0.03, β = 0.30, s.e. = 0.01, p < 0.001) and arousal (B = 0.04, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.43, p < 0.001) symptoms.These findings demonstrate that brief separation from attachments during childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on one's attachment security, and that this can be associated with adult post-traumatic psychopathology.
Keywords: Attachment
post-traumatic stress disorder
Rights: © Cambridge University Press 2017
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291717000472
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