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Title: The role of reflective functioning in mediating the relationship between attachment style and psychopathology
Author: Ghossain, D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 3675
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis focuses on the association between attachment style and mentalizing ability and the extent to which the two are predictive of psychopathology. It is a joint thesis with Dissociative symptoms and the quality of structural integration in BPD (Sole, 2014). Part 1, the literature review, examines the evidence for an association between attachment style and mentalizing ability. Twelve studies represent a small but compelling body of research evidencing a robust link between parents’ ability to mentalize and infant attachment style. However, the evidence varies greatly due to differences in how variables, particularly those relating to mentalizing, have been operationalised, e.g. through direct observation of infant-caregiver behaviour or by recording caregivers' representations of their mentalizing abilities. Moreover, mentalizing alone does not fully account for the intergenerational transmission of attachment. Part 2, the empirical paper, describes a study investigating the role of reflective functioning in mediating the association between attachment style and psychopathology, and examining the scale reliability and criterion validity of a new measure of structural integration, the Operationalized Psychodynamic Diagnosis Structure Questionnaire (OPD-SQ). A group of participants with a diagnosis of personality disorder (N = 80) were compared to a group of healthy controls (N = 85) on attachment style, reflective functioning, structural integration and psychopathology. Group comparisons showed unexpected findings for reflective functioning and attachment style. Reflective functioning was shown to mediate attachment-related differences in psychopathology in the total and non-clinical samples only. Part 3, the critical appraisal, reflects on the process and impact on the researcher of conducting the research. It comprises a discussion of my motivation for conducting research in this area, my reflection on the current state of research into the relationship between attachment and mentalizing, methodological issues relating to the operationalisation of the mentalizing construct, and ethical considerations relating to the interviewing of participants.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available