Quality of attachment and borderline tendency among female hospitalized adolescents

Apsel, Karen Beth, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Virginia
Keller, Adrienne, University of Virginia
Sheras, Peter, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Cornell, Dewey, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Reeve, Ronald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Dupont, Phil, University of Virginia

This study examined the relationship between adolescent attachment and borderline tendency in a sample of hospitalized adolescent girls. Previous studies have found that both insecure attachment and borderline pathology can be related to incidents of early childhood abuse and trauma, as well as adolescent behaviors including among other things suicidality, promiscuity, and drug use. Forty-six hospitalized adolescent girls were administered two measures of attachment, the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire (AAQ) and the Bartholomew Attachment Measure, and one measure of borderline tendency, the Borderline Tendency scale from the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI). In addition, nurses at the hospital also completed a modification of the Bartholomew Attachment Measure to measure attachment and a DSM-IV-based borderline checklist to measure borderline tendency.

Participants in the disorganized attachment category were found to have higher levels of borderline tendency and participants with secure attachment were found to have lower levels of borderline tendency; however these results did not occur across raters (i.e., the self-rated attachment measures did not correlate with different levels of the nurse completed borderline tendency measure and vice versa). In addition, there was no correlation found between measures of attachment or between measures of borderline tendency. The results of this study are discussed in terms of the limitation of the measures used, the cross-sectional design, and directions for future research.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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