Attachment and Personality Pathology

(Gander Manuela PhD, Dr. Gabriele Kohlböck, Prof. Kathrin Sevecke)

The study of attachment, its assessment and clinical applications during adolescence demonstrated a far-reaching insight into underlying mechanisms of personality development and psychopathology. However, there is a paucity of research on attachment trauma in child and adolescent psychiatric settings. Our research focuses on the role of attachment trauma in children and adolescents with mental disorders and its impact on emotion regulation, psychopathology and psychotherapy. We extend prior research by using a novel methodology that allows exploring the nature of traumatizing attachment-related experiences in adolescents with different psychiatric disorders. This approach elucidated a deeper understanding of nuances attachment trauma and traumatic childhood experiences in patients with personality pathology, Anorexia Nervosa, Depression and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Disorder. Based on our results, we derived a novel attachment-based treatment tailoring to treat attachment trauma in child and adolescent psychiatry. This approach might have the potential to optimize the outcome and might be a useful adjunct to first-line in-patient psychiatric treatment particularly for patients with personality disturbances. In different case studies our study group already demonstrated how the implementation of individual attachment characteristics helped clinicians to gain a broader understanding of an adolescent's psychopathological symptoms, formulate therapeutic goals and develop a treatment plan.


Research grant for the study on attachment characteristics in adolescent patients with Anorexia Nervosa (grant nr. 224523, PI: Manuela Gander, PhD)

Research grant for the validation of the AAP for adolescents (grant nr. 172630, PI: Manuela Gander, PhD)

Co-operation partners

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anna Buchheim, LFU; Prof. Dr. Carol George, Mills College, Oakland, Dr. Alexander Karabatsiakis, LFU, Prof. Dr. Elke Gizewksi, 
Dr. Lukas Lenhart, Dr. Ruth Steiger, Department of Radiology, MUI