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Separation from parents during childhood trauma predicts adult attachment security and post-traumatic stress disorder

Bryant, RA, Creamer, M, O'Donnell, M, Forbes, D, Felmingham, KL, Silove, D, Malhi, G, Van Hoof, M, McFarlane, AC and Nickerson, A 2017 , 'Separation from parents during childhood trauma predicts adult attachment security and post-traumatic stress disorder' , Psychological Medicine, vol. 47, no. 11 , pp. 2028-2035 , doi: 10.1017/S0033291717000472.

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Abstract

Background: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.Method: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.Results: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 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 B = 0.04, s.e. = 0.01, β = 0.43, p Conclusions: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.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Bryant, RA and Creamer, M and O'Donnell, M and Forbes, D and Felmingham, KL and Silove, D and Malhi, G and Van Hoof, M and McFarlane, AC and Nickerson, A
Keywords: attachment, childhood, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation
Journal or Publication Title: Psychological Medicine
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0033-2917
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/S0033291717000472
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Cambridge University Press

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