The effects of early 'non attachment' in adulthood

Williams, Bryn Thomas Roy (1999). The effects of early 'non attachment' in adulthood. PhD thesis The Open University.



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.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions