Attachment states of mind, mentalization, and their correlates in a first-episode psychosis sample

A. MacBeth, A. Gumley, M. Schwannauer, R. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. Although there has been increased interest in applying attachment theory to the psychological understanding of psychosis, research to date has focused on self-reported attachment and psychotic symptomatology. This study presents evidence for applying attachment and mentalization constructs to understanding engagement and adaptation to first-episode psychosis (FEP), using a narrative based interview. Design. A cross-sectional cohort design was used. Methods. Thirty-four individuals with a first episode of psychosis were interviewed using the Adult Attachment Interview. Attachment classifications and reflective function scores were derived from the interview. Psychotic symptomatology, premorbid adjustment, duration of untreated psychosis, and psychological variables were also measured. Results. Attachment distribution was heterogeneous in the sample, although the majority of participants were classified dismissing of attachment. Mentalization scores were consistent with previous clinical samples. Attachment and mentalization were unrelated to psychotic symptomatology. Conclusions. The current study demonstrates, albeit with a small clinical sample, the importance of assessing attachment and mentalization via narrative methods. The findings also have clinical implications for understanding the process of engagement and adaptation in FEP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-57
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date15 Feb 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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