Attachment is the emotional bond between infant and the caregiver, which begins in the first days of life. The quality of the attachment relationship is the most important early determinant of mental health in infants and young children. According to the attachment theory developed by John Bowlby, infants need physical proximity to the caregiver who provides care and protection. Mary Ainsworth, who contributed the development of attachment theory, first mentioned the term maternal sensitivity and developed the procedure called as Strange Situation Test for the experimental evaluation of attachment behavior observation. Infant-caregiver attachment patterns were defined as secure, avoidant, ambivalent-resistant anxious and disorganized based on this procedure. It has been suggested that this first relationship between infant and caregiver affect the individuals physical and mental health across the whole lifespan. Secure attachment pattern is accepted as protective for psychiatric disorders, while others were considered to be associated with vulnerability to psychopathology. Avoidant attachment pattern has been reported to be associated with externalizing disorders, such as conduct disorder, substance abuse and antisocial behavior disorders, and ambivalent attachment predicts internalizing disorders including anxiety and depression. For the disorganized attachment pattern, neglect or abuse is considered as an important factor. Therefore, it is suggested that the evaluation of the caregiver-infant attachment by mental health professionals and the initiation of appropriate interventions to eliminate deficiencies should have an important role in community mental health studies.
Anahtar Kelimeler: Attachment, Infant, Caregiver, Attachment pattern, Psychopathology.