DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which an infant or young child doesn't establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. Reactive attachment disorder may develop if the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring, stable attachments with others are not established.
With treatment, children with reactive attachment disorder may develop more stable and healthy relationships with caregivers and others. Treatments for reactive attachment disorder include positive child and caregiver interactions, a stable, nurturing environment, psychological counseling, and parent or caregiver education.
July 10, 2014
- Reactive attachment disorder of infancy or early childhood. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Highlights of changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Reactive attachment disorder. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Reactive_Attachment_Disorder_85.aspx. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Coercive interventions for reactive attachment disorder. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/policy_statements/coercive_interventions_for_reactive_attachment_disorder. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Boris NW, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with reactive attachment disorder of infancy and early childhood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2005;44:1206.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.org/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Chaffin M, et al. Report of the APSAC task force on attachment therapy, reactive attachment disorder, and attachment problems. Child Maltreatment. 2006;11:76.
- Position statement on reactive attachment disorder. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psych.org/advocacy--newsroom/position-statements. Accessed April 9, 2014.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 22, 2014.
- Tervo RC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 20, 2014.
- Mikic N, et al. Mentalization and attachment representations: A theoretical contribution to the understanding of reactive attachment disorder. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. 2014;78:34.