The effects of early 'non attachment' in adulthood.
Early conceptualisations of Attachment Theory placed considerable emphasis on the
importance of early experiences of relationships on development throughout life.
Central to the theory is the notion that early experiences determine internalised
representations of relationships and experience which subsequently affect the way
individuals perceive themselves in relation to others. However, the evidence suggests
that development is not so deterministic and that the impact of early adversity can be
overcome through reparative experiences. The current study is part of a larger
longitudinal investigation concerned with the impact of pure non attachment on
development. The study reported in this thesis aims to consider the impact of early
non attachment in adulthood, by exploring the sense that adults have made of their
lives having been placed in institutionalised care in early childhood, with no
opportunity to develop attachment, and who were then adopted or restored to
biological parents. The meanings given to these experiences were explored by
conducting a Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the accounts given by 15
participants using the Adult Attachment Interview. The results of the study suggest
that the over all experience of non attachment did not prevent or severely inhibit
development. However, six themes were identified in the study which highlight
difficulties in people's ability to make sense of the pastJUld how they function in the
present. The findings provide further insight into the impact of early non-attachment in
adulthood and suggest that internalised representations of relationships may have a
lasting influence, although alternative experience can ameliorate their impact.