Relationship of attachment to abuse in incarcerated women
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Four adult attachment styles that have been extensively reported in the literature have been labeled secure, dismissing, preoccupied, and fearful. Unfortunately, there are no existing published studies that measure attachment styles of incarcerated women. This study used responses from 158 women incarcerated at a federal prison on the Relationship Questionnaire, Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III), and Record of Maltreatment Experiences to examine several facets of the association of attachment styles with childhood abuse and scales on the MCMI-III. The inmates who survived abuse endorsed the fearful and preoccupied attachment styles more, and the secure style less, than did the women who did not acknowledge a history of abuse. There was no statistically significant finding among attachment styles based on physical or sexual abuse. Inmates who were abused by a family member were more likely to endorse the fearful attachment style. The depressive, sadistic, and dependent MCMI-III scales were determined to be more highly associated with fearful or preoccupied attachment styles than with dismissing or secure styles. Finally, the inmates endorsed the anxious/ambivalent (fearful and preoccupied) attachment style more, and the secure style less, than non-incarcerated individuals as reported in the literature.
Davis, Brandon Lee (2004). Relationship of attachment to abuse in incarcerated women. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from