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Title: The role of the caregiving environment in emotional development and its influence on adult mental health difficulties
Author: Mahedy, William Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Background. Derived from a psychoanalytic and object relations perspective, the development of the internal object through such processes! mechanisms as projection, identification, imitation, and projective identification is crucial to the development of a sense of self (how we view ourselves). Method. In elucidating the relationship between early environmental characteristics and adult mental health, a statistical approach was implemented using the National Comorbidity Survey: Baseline (NCS, 1990-1992; Kessler, 1994, 2002). In doing so, a number of structural equation models were presented to examine the aforementioned relationship. Notably, latent profile analysis (LP A), multinomiallogistic regression in a multiple group context, confirmatory factor analysis (CF A), finite mixture multinomial logistic regression in a multiple group context, and moderated mediation models in a multiple group context were used. Results. Both types of insecure attachment, insecure anxious-ambivalent and insecure anxious-avoidant may act as risk factors for the development of mental health disorders in adulthood; while secure attachment may play a more protective role in this relationship. All aspects of the caregiving environment are influential in creating a vulnerability that may probabilistically lead to the development of mental health disorders in adulthood. Experiencing maternal depression in childhood increased the likelihood of developing mental health disorders in adulthood. Compared to the most secure attachment profiles, extremely insecure individuals were more likely to endorse a range of quality of life indicators negatively. Important findings in relation to gender were highlighted, indicating that males are more likely to develop externalising and females are more likely to develop internalising disorders in adulthood. Conclusion. These findings suggest that the development of attachment insecurity may arise from the caregiving environment, and further highlight the long-term adverse effects of developing insecure attachment in relation to an individual's quality of life. In these terms, the consequences of un-mirrored affect during the earliest caregiving relationships may create a vulnerability to later mental health problems by not facilitating the development of adequate emotional regulatory capacities. Conclusions and key findings are discussed in relation to psychoanalytic theory. Finally, strengths, limitations, implications of the research and recommendations for future research were discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available