Attachment, Personality & Lifespan Development: Empirical & Theoretical Applications of Attachment Theory to Pathological & Optimal Adult Development Open Access

Ortigo, Kile Malcolm (2012)

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Attachment, Personality & Lifespan Development: Empirical & Theoretical Applications of Attachment Theory to Pathological & Optimal Adult Development

This dissertation is comprised of three distinct, core chapters that consider empirical and theoretical applications of attachment theory to lifespan development and personality. The first two chapters are empirical and use data gathered as part of the Grady Trauma Project, an NIMH-funded grant studying the genetic, environmental, and individual-level correlates of trauma exposure and posttraumatic reactions in a low-SES, primarily African American sample of individuals seeking care at a public urban hospital. The first core chapter tests associations between adult attachment and personality pathology by using multiple measures of each with diverse constructs and methods. Results generally found small-to-moderate correlations in expected directions with some findings dependent on assessment strategy. In addition, hierarchical regressions confirmed that both personality and attachment in close relationships predict unique variance in global adaptive functioning above the other. The second core chapter tests relationships among attachment in close relationships, object relations, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mediational analyses confirmed a priori hypotheses that object relations (i.e., views of self and others) partially mediated the relationship between attachment and PTSD symptoms. The third core chapter is theoretical and interdisciplinary and explores Carl Jung's process of individuation and its connections with other developmental theories of the self, including attachment and object relations theories. This chapter seeks to integrate adult and childhood-oriented theories of self development while considering the role of relationships in developing the self across the lifespan. Portions of this chapter also consider interdisciplinary applications to critical theory in film, literature, and psychology. These chapters are framed by a general introduction and a general discussion connecting concepts among the three core chapters.

Attachment, Personality & Lifespan Development: Empirical & Theoretical Applications of Attachment Theory to Pathological & Optimal Adult Development
M.A., Emory University, 2007
B.A., University of Arkansas, 2006
Co-Advisers: Drew Westen, Ph.D., & Bekh Bradley-Davino, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Clinical Psychology

Table of Contents

Chapter I Introduction to Dissertation: Theorizing about Attachment, Personality, & Lifespan Development...1

Attachment Theory: An Overview...4

The Current Projects...23

Personality Pathology & Attachment...23

Trauma, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, & Attachment...30

Jungian Psychology, Individuation, & Its Modern Relevance...38

Structure of Dissertation...61

Chapter II Relationships between Adult Attachment & Personality Pathology in a Traumatized, Urban Population...63






Chapter III Attachment, Object Relations, & Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in a Traumatized, Urban Population: Evidence for the Mediating Role of Object Relations...92






Chapter IV Facing the Shadow of Wholeness & Self: Using Developmental Theories of the Self to Inform Jung's Theory of Individuation...128



Potential Links from Early Development to Individuation...134

Wholeness in Fragmentation: Individuation & Critical Theory...146

Conclusion: An Openness to Possibilities...150

Chapter V General Discussion of Dissertation: Looking Forward in the Study of Attachment, Personality, & Lifespan Development...153

Understanding Our Past - Theoretical Considerations...154

Looking Toward the Future - Research Implications...160


General References...169




Appendix A - Proposed Revisions for the DSM-V's Personality Disorders (adapted from APA, 2011)...267

Appendix B - Attachment & Object Relations Measures...273

Appendix C - Supplemental Data Analysis...281

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