ABC-D & DMM – conflict avoidance, appeasement, or read difference Danya Glaser

conflict avoidance, appeasement, or
read difference
Danya Glaser
With its biological, psychological, behavioural
and social underpinnings,
attachment is too big, too robust & fundamental
to be liable to being split.
What is attachment?
• (In childhood) That aspect of the relationship
between the developmentally less mature child and
their (‘appointed’) attachment person(s), which
maintains optimal safety for the child in the face of
danger, with the implicit aim of reducing the danger
and restoring the child to exploration and creativity
• Attachment is complemented by caregiving
• Nature of caregiving determines attachment
• In adulthood, the need for attachment continues,
although usually neither of the attachment the
attachment partners is consistently more dependent
• In both systems, there is a recognition of the
necessary adaptive nature of all but (the most
secure) B and the cost of A, C &
disorganised/unresolved strategies as an
unsuitable/anachronistic in a different
caregiving relationship
• The term disorganised, in the ABC-D is
primarily applicable to infants who may still be
seeking a strategy. Thereafter, there is a move
towards situation ally-adaptive organisation.
• Within ABC-D system
– Evidence of move from disorganised to
secure in 2nd year of life following parentinfant psychotherapy for maltreating
mothers (Ciccehtti & Toth)
– The adaptation of young fostered babies
to the foster mothers’ attachment
organisation (Dozier)
Continuity & discontinuity
• Like DMM, ABC-D only assumes continuity
of child’s attachment organisation pattern if
parental caregiving remains unchanged
• Unlike DMM, ABC-D assumes continued
parental sensitivity from infancy to early
childhood, hence prediction of continuity of B
• No evidence that ABC-D coding or rating is
predicated on assumption of continuity, as
raters must be blind to any previous
• DMM appears more sensitive to A & C, to
differences within A & C and therefore coding
fewer subjects as B secure
• DMM more clear in suggesting explicitly
particular interventions
• DMM inter-rater reliability generally poorer,
presumably due to its sophistication and
Questions to both systems
• Is there evidence for the suggested
change in the AAI from (before pregnancy
to) pregnancy to post birth?
• ?Evidence of shifting/deterioration of
parental sensitivity with child's maturation
• What is the basis for hypothesising an
opposite child to parent classification?
Steele & Fonagy studies showed
continuity for B and A classifications. Is
the hypothesis more appropriately one of
same or opposite as a reflection of lack of
More questions
• Why is there much greater difficulty for
e.g. later-placed children to adapt to
different caregiving & do so much more
slowly, is probably less to do with sensitive
or biologically determinative early
• How does the Ambiance (Lyons Ruth) relate to
the Care Index as an indicator of maternal
Gaps in DMM life-long scheme,
possibly ‘filled’ by procedures
currently used in ABC-D system
• Story stem assessment for 4-8 year olds
• Child Attachment Interview for 13-16 year
• Need to continue to compare codings
between the 2 systems
Way forward
As the procedures are similar and could
be fully reconciled without sacrificing
fidelity to the different schools, need for
a conjoint coding exercise and dialogue
to establish whether differences in what
is being coded are due to differences in
– What is being seen
– Interpretation of what is being seen – i.e.