Child maltreatment: an attachment theory perspective

Maria Capaldo, Raffaella Perrella


This paper offers reflections about the relationship between child maltreatment, attachment disturbance and psychopathology in Bowlby’s attachment theory perspective. Child maltreatment is a complex and frequent phenomenon that has pretty clear implications on the developmental outcomes of its juvenile victims. The areas most affected by the experience of maltreatments suffered during childhood are to refer especially to self-development and to the ability to structure healthy and stable relationships. This is the reason that justifies the choice to make the phenomenon to be figured out in the Bowlby’s perspective, who has always underlined in his works the importance of the role of attachment relationships structured during the first few months of life in order to define the psychological and relational development of the subject. In this regard, we discuss a single case to underline the effects that maltreatment has on children psychological structure in the short and long term, trying to comprehend the subject symptomatology presented in view of the attachment theory perspective.


Attachment; Child maltreatment; Impulsivity; Emotional dysregulation; Mentalization

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