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Current attachment representations of incarcerated offenders varying in degree of psychopathy


Current attachment representations of incarcerated offenders varying in degree of psychopathy



Attachment and Human Development 3(3): 269-283



ISSN/ISBN: 1461-6734

PMID: 11885814

DOI: 10.1080/14616730110096889

The present study sought to examine the current mental representations of early attachment relationships in 24 psychopathic criminal offenders, incarcerated in a forensic psychiatric hospital or a medium-security prison. The participants had been assessed on Hare's Psychopathy Checklist, Revised: Screening Version (PCL-R, sv, 1997) and scored either high or low. They were interviewed with the Main and Goldwyn Adult Attachment Interview (1998) and completed the EMBU, a Swedish self-report questionnaire tapping memories of the parent's rearing techniques. The results pointed to an extensive over-representation of individuals who were dismissing of attachment and attachment-related experiences (close to three times as many as in the normal population), no secure individuals, and with the remainder being either unclassifiable or unresolved with regard to severe early abuse/trauma. In addition, an examination of the EMBU data revealed an association between a higher psychopathy score and a family constellation of a rejecting father and an emotionally very warm (idealized) mother. The discussion will focus on the unique discourse of the dismissing individuals and on clinical implications.

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Accession: 045682261

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