Absence of Attachment Representations (AAR) in the adult years: The emergence of a new AAI classification in catastrophically traumatized Holocaust child survivors

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Abstract

In the present study we present a new and rare type of discourse in the AAI which s characterized by absence of attachment representations during adulthood. Forty-eight women, who as children lost both parents as a result of the Holocaust, were administered the AAI in their late adulthood. Two cases in this sample could not be assigned to any of the traditional AAI classification system (F, Ds, E, CC), mainly because they were unable to associate themselves with any significant attachment figure throughout their life. We raise the possibility that some devastating experiences during childhood might cause an unrecoverable crash in already established patterns of attachment to an extent that adulthood will be characterized by state of mind that bears no emotional tie to even a single attachment figure. We illustrate this state of mind by presenting the life history as well as quotations from the AAI of two women, and we discuss the possibility of a new AAI classification, namely Absence of Attachment Representations - AAR. The possible effects of the AAR classification on parental caregiving behaviors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-397
Number of pages17
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Holocaust study was funded by the German-Israel Foundation for Research and Development (GIF #279) and by the Koehler Stiftung (Munich). We wish to thank the AAI interviewers: Sarit Alkalay, Noa Egoz-Mizrachi, Yael Goshen, Sarit Guttmann and Ran Navon. Special thanks are due to Erik Hesse, Karlen Lyons-Ruth, Mary Main, Miriam Steele, Howard Steele and Marinus van IJzendoorn, for their contributions, advice and helpful discussions.

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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