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Reactive Attachment Disorder Causes

(Also Known As: Attachment Disorder Causes, Childhood Disorder Causes, Disinhibited Attachment Disorder Causes, Abnormal Emotional Attachment Causes, Inhibited Attachment Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Reactive Attachment Disorder?

The main cause of the child developing a reactive attachment disorder is always attributed to the problematic history of child care and social relationships. The disorder often occurs when there is an interruption or underdeveloped attachment between the child and their primary caregivers, usually the mother, which leads to gross negligent care of the child. 3 The disorder is believed to be caused by the following contributing factors:

  • Repeated changes of the child’s primary caregiver that often prevents the development of a stable attachment, as when there are frequent changes in the child’s foster care.
  • There is a persistent disregard to the emotional needs of the child for affection, stimulation and comfort.
  • There is the persistent neglect of the child’s physical needs.
  • Failure to provide the child with a nurturing environment.
  • Harsh and negative means of child rearing.
  • Failure of the child to develop emotional trust and security
  • The child feels rejected and insecure.
  • Abusive care experience
  • Abandonment
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy
  • Traumatic prenatal experience
  • Birth trauma
  • Neglect
  • In-utero exposure to alcohol and/or drugs
  • Separation from birth parents
  • Multiple moves or placement
  • Undiagnosed and untreated painful illness
  • Medical conditions that prohibit touch

There are also risk factors that can contribute to the cause of developing reactive attachment disorder:

  • Living in an orphanage
  • Inexperienced parents
  • Institutional care
  • Prolonged hospitalization
  • Extreme poverty
  • Forced removal from a neglectful and abusive home
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Family trauma, such as divorce or death
  • Postpartum depression in the baby’s mother
  • Parents with problems with alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness and poor anger management.

Could You Have Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive Attachment Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Antisocial Personality Disorder - Deceitful, Manipulative, Sociopath, Psychopaths
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Impulsiveness, Hyperactivity, Inattention
Autism – Impaired Social Interaction, Restricted Behavior, Less attachment Security, Social Deviance
Mental Retardation – Idiot, Imbecile, Moron, Memory Deficit, Difficulty in Social Skills and Problem Solving, Delayed Language Development
Oppositional Defiant Disorder – Defiant, Hostile, Disobedient, Conduct Disorder
Selective Mutism – Inability to Express Oneself in Words, Normal Speech but Unable to Speak
Separation Anxiety Disorder – Excessive Anxiety from Being Separated from People with Strong Attachment, Persistent Worry, Recurring Distress
Social Anxiety Disorder – Anxiety, Social Phobia, Phobia, Impaired Socialization, Excessive Worry, Distressed Behavior