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Title: Attachment, childhood adversity, emotional problems and personality disorder in offenders with mild intellectual disability
Author: Steptoe, Lesley
Awarding Body: University of Abertay Dundee
Current Institution: Abertay University
Date of Award: 2011
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The aim of this research is to examine attachment in offenders with mild intellectual disability. Insecure attachment is evidenced as a developmental risk factor with regard to antisociality, in the mainstream population. However there is a dearth of evidence with regard to attachment and the development of antisociality in offenders with intellectual disability (ID). Differences in lifespan development and cognitive limitations may affect the development of attachment bonds in this group. This research explores attachment (measured retrospectively in childhood), relationships to perceived parenting, emotion and personality pathology in offenders with ID. Adaptation of an existing self report measure (Relationship Questionnaire) (RQ) resulted in the development of the ‘Adapted Relationship Questionnaire’ (ARQ). To test construct validity and reliability the ARQ and the RQ were administered to 60 university student participants. Participants rated each questionnaire with regard to retrospective childhood attachment, 41 additional participants filled in the ARQ only. No significant differences were found between categorical attachment ratings of attachment on the RQ and ARQ. A test of construct validity showed convergence between the ‘Fearful Avoidant’ and ‘Preoccupied’ attachment styles. Principal Components Analysis (Direct Oblimin) resulted in a three factor solution for the ARQ of ‘Secure’, ‘Anxious Avoidant and ‘Dismissing Avoidant’ attachment styles which showed Cronbach’s Alpha ratings of .69, .87 and .84 respectively. A control group (n25) of participants with mild ID, who had no offending history, and a group of offenders with ID (n38) completed the ARQ. Background, forensic and childhood adversity information was gathered from file review for offenders. The Parental Bonding Inventory (PBI) was completed by offenders with mild ID and the Emotional Problem Solving (EPS) scale and Interpersonal Adjectives Scale (IAS) was completed by clinical staff involved in the support of the participant. Borderline and Antisocial Personality Disorder was assessed by consensus rating from file review, clinicians ratings, observational ratings of staff and staff interview using the Structured Assessment of Personality (SAP). Consensus agreement was attained from three sources of the assessment sources before the particular PD trait was rated positively. Assessment of emotion in controls was carried out using the Dundee Provocation Inventory (DPI) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Results show no significant differences in attachment style relative to gender or comparison between offender and controls of non offenders with ID or offenders compared to mainstream student participants. No significant relationships were found between attachment style and childhood adversity. Orderly relationships were found within the 'Secure' attachment style with positively relationships to 'Optimal Parental Care', ratings of 'Self Esteem' and level of submissiveness and compliance within interpersonal styles. The insecure 'Anxious Avoidant' attachment style related positively to the low care/high protection parenting style with negative relationships to dimensional ratings of care within the parental relationship and submissiveness and compliance within ratings of interpersonal style. The insecure 'Dismissing Avoidant' attachment style in offenders with ID showed a negative relationship to optimal parenting and a positive relationship to a verbally aggressive, coercive interpersonal style and also antisocial personality disorder. Only two participants were allocated a diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder which did not facilitate quantitative statistical analysis of this group. Within the control group 'Secure' attachment style appeared to be a protective factor to emotional difficulties, and was positively related to the perception of optimal parenting and care received in childhood but not parental protection. The insecure 'Anxious Avoidant' attachment style appeared to act as a risk factor to the development of emotional difficulties. No significant relationships were found between the 'Dismissing Avoidant' style and emotional problems.
Supervisor: Carson, Derek Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Attachment ; Offenders ; Intellectual disability ; Emotion ; Personality disorder ; Offenders ; Personality disorder