Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Reactive Attachment Disorder

  • Daniel W. KlyceEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_9181


Attachment behavior; Emotionally withdrawn/inhibited; Selective attachment

Short Description or Definition

Reactive attachment disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5thed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) by a pattern of child attachment behavior toward adult caregivers that is inhibited or emotionally withdrawn. Children with this pattern of behavior rarely or minimally seek or respond to comfort when distressed. They may be limited in their emotional responsiveness to others and have limited positive affect and/or episodes of emotional distress in nonthreatening situations (e.g., irritability, sadness, or fearfulness). Children with these symptoms have a known history of (1)persistent social neglect or deprivation, (2)frequent changing of individuals in the role of primary caregiver, and/or (3)inconsistent or limited opportunity to form close attachments. To be diagnosed, the pattern of behavior must develop before...

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References and Readings

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5thed.). Arlington: American Psychiatric Association Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Minnis, H., Macmillan, S., Pritchett, R., Young, D., Wallace, B., Butcher, J., … Gillberg, C. (2013). Prevalence of reactive attachment disorder in a deprived population. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(5), 342–346.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Zeanah, C.H., & Gleason, M.M. (2015). Annual research review: Attachment disorders in early childhood–clinical presentation, causes, correlates, and treatment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(3), 207–222.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Zeanah, C.H., Chesher, T., Boris, N.W., & American Academy of Child. (2016). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(11), 990–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth University– School of MedicineRichmondUSA