Maternal caregiving strategy - A distinction between the ambivalent and the disorganized profile

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The present essay proposes a distinction between the characteristics of mothers of anxious/ambivalent infants and mothers of disorganized infants. Based on a recent meta-analysis it is argued that preoccupation and role reversal are not the main characteristics of mothers of ambivalent infants when the four-category partition of attachment patterns is employed. To clarify the distinction between mothers of ambivalent and disorganized infants, the concept of a caregiving strategy is highlighted as distinct from the concept of an attachment strategy. Role reversal is suggested as the major strategy of mothers of disorganized infants (at least those infants who later evince the controlling pattern), while excessively close protection is suggested as the major caregiving strategy of mothers of ambivalent infants. Incon-sistency in maternal practices of the latter category is presumed to arise from these mothers' inability to be as vigilant and protective as they desire: as a result they are overwhelmed by the parenting task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-33
Number of pages14
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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