The theory of attachment deeply influenced research and the classical view of developmental psychopathology and lead clinicians to pay greater attention to the interpersonal function than to the study of the individual mind. This gave rise to an extension of the area covered by these studies beyond the boundaries of childhood and the early relations with the parents. Attachment as a motivational element plays a vital role – from birth till death –and represents a development model that covers the whole life span. The theory of attachment also highlighted the value of the representational dimensions and the role of the internalization of affective contents and of the system of meaning built in the experiences with the caregivers, as compared to an initial focus on the behavioural attachment system. In the theory of attachment, in fact, there has been a relevant evolution in the early Seventies that stressed the issue of “feeling safe” rather than that of physical proximity, allowing a new conceptualization of the theory in terms of affective regulation and of representations of the self and of the other. This change contributed to freeing the theory of attachment from a perspective that made infancy the essential core of affective development, giving greater value to other stages of the life span and to the role of other figures – multiple caregivers – the father in the first place and the couple love relations. The most controversial and stimulating issue today derives from trying to verify if the theory of attachment can be applied to romantic relations, how much and how the relational models devised in the family of origin tend to be applied to adult relations. In this book the research group developed some basic issues in the field of romantic relations and presents the results of various studies where both narrative and self-reporting tools have been applied. The authors touch first the question of the structure of the concept of romantic attachment, starting from the relational and interpersonal function and from the intrapsychic function of this relation. In the first part of the book, the authors discuss a key issue that recently sparked a wide debate: the continuity/discontinuity of infant attachment and adult attachment. The question debated is if attachment can be considered a lasting trait of a person, influencing his functioning in intimate relations, or if it reflects and is modified by the individual experience in recent and adult relations. If we look at the first position, we could say that primary infantile relations, generalized in internal operating models, tend to influence the establishment of relations in later years, both in adolescence and adulthood. In the second position, instead, there would be a discontinuity between past and present, or at least, there would not be a linear transmission of the patterns built in childhood, and couple phenomena should be seen in the encounter of two psychic organizations and their mutual influence in the here and now. These themes fit well in the present debate on the comparison between the classical Freudian paradigm and the changes that the post-modern intersubjectivistic models caused in the psychoanalytical movement, to the point that we can wonder if the individual is an entity different from a couple, a family or a group and therefore if these two entities, the individual and the interpersonal, are completely different or interconnected. The authors describe the stages of development of adult romantic relations: pre-attachment – flirting; formation of attachment – falling in love; well delineated attachment, and show analogies in the behaviour of adult subjects and the primary mother-child relation both as concerns emotional features and motivational aspects, something already described by Freud and Bowlby. The attachment link, in fact, meets a few key requirements even in adults, such as a safe base and a safe haven that guarantee safety and stability that in turn allow and enhance exploratory behaviours, just like the awareness of an emotional presence provides comfort in case of stress. These aspects are discussed considering the behavioural systems typical of adulthood, such as caregiving and sexuality. In the first chapter the authors give a systematic outline of various theoretical questions, opting for what has been defined the dyadic nature of relations, a position referring to the idea of discontinuity of operational models. In other words, as many recent studies suggest (Feeney, 2004), in a significant relation, such as a couple relation, the attachment models of the partners affect the establishment and development of the relation, but it is the relation dynamics that most affects the attachment models of the partners in building a new reality at a different metalevel than the preceding individual patterns. This position is discussed with the help of clinical examples by presenting some of the most appreciated tools for assessing adult attachment in couples and families. In the second chapter the authors illustrate the representational level of research on attachment by means of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), a well known tool that is widely used in clinical research, but is less widespread in couple studies. One interesting novelty of this book is the presentation of the Current Relationship Interview (CRI), a semi-structured interview aiming at assessing the relation-specific attachment representation, prepared by Judith Crowell within the Stony Brook Adult Relationship Project (2003). The authors, after presenting the features of this tool, illustrate its areas of application: romantic background, current romantic relationship, safe base, safe haven, past (quality of the parental couple’s relation) and future, providing an overview of the studies and applications of this interview, commenting in particular those longitudinal studies that assessed the changes in the generalized individual attachment models as compared to the specific couple attachment models. This tool, new for the Italian public, is illustrated both as concerns the articulation of the questionnaire and the classification modes and attachment categories outlined. The authors also provide clinical examples where the interview was used that confirm their attention to the theoretical aspects of couple attachment and to the diffusion of tools for the assessment of the quality of significant relations in various areas of clinical intervention. The whole book, however, pays constant attention to the question of marital quality, also for the implications this issue has on the stability/instability of couple relations, on the wellbeing and illbeing of its members and any possible consequence on their children. In particular, in the sixth chapter, where the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) is presented, the authors discuss the theoretical and terminological confusions concerning the concept of marital quality, along with the wealth of studies where this concept is assimilated to that of satisfaction, successful couple relation, adaptation or complicity. In the literature we often find confusion between the perception of individual feelings and the perception of couple feelings, the first one related to a subjective and individual assessment of the couple members on their personal feeling of satisfaction, wellbeing, happiness, etc; the second related to the assessment of the style of communication and/or conflict existing in the couple relation. This problem is discussed again when presenting the category or dimension evaluation in the tools of self reporting on romantic attachment, where particular attention is paid to Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-R) of Fraley, Waller and Brennan. The psychometric features and the viability in clinical situations of this tool are discussed also with the help of an example that assesses both individual attachment and couple matching. The proximity of the theory of attachment with the psychoanalytical paradigm is discussed in depth in the fourth chapter of the book, dedicated to the theoretical links between the concept of reflexive function and romantic attachment. In this chapter the authors develop some basic issues within the two paradigms, i.e. the association between the caregiver’s capacity for “seeing” the mental state of the child and the acquisition of the capacity for mentalization, or the ability to respond, also in adult life, to the interpersonal exchanges with flexibility and adaptation. The originality of the authors’ approach resides in the application of the Scale of Reflexive Function prepared by Fonagy and Target (1997) to the transcript of the Current Relationship Interview, introducing the concept of mentalized affectivity, a kind of affective regulation that treats the range of affects through the lenses of self reflectiveness and is considered by the authors as one of the requirements for a satisfying relational life. In the last chapter the authors illustrate the Couple Life Space (Tamanza and Gozzoli), a joint projective tool deriving from the adaptation to the couple of the more familiar Family Life Space of Mostwin (1980, 1982) which allows, through a graphic representation, to see the type and quality of couple relation also considering the significant figures and the social context. The authors comment the profile of this tool and stress its usefulness in the area of difficult interactions and its ability in seeing how a couple governs its common life space both in the here and now (of the couple) and in terms of any real or possible critical events. These last considerations make us foresee a new challenge that the paradigm of attachment will have to face: the passage – or confrontation – from an initially individual starting point to an explanation of the intersubjetive dimensions. In this sense, the area of couple dynamics appears as an area rich of epistemological stimuli and of tools aimed at well capturing the relationship between the intrapsychic and the relational.

Zavattini, G., Santona, A. (2007). La relazione di coppia. Valutazione e misure. Roma : Borla.

La relazione di coppia. Valutazione e misure

SANTONA, ALESSANDRA MARIA ROBERTA
2007

Abstract

The theory of attachment deeply influenced research and the classical view of developmental psychopathology and lead clinicians to pay greater attention to the interpersonal function than to the study of the individual mind. This gave rise to an extension of the area covered by these studies beyond the boundaries of childhood and the early relations with the parents. Attachment as a motivational element plays a vital role – from birth till death –and represents a development model that covers the whole life span. The theory of attachment also highlighted the value of the representational dimensions and the role of the internalization of affective contents and of the system of meaning built in the experiences with the caregivers, as compared to an initial focus on the behavioural attachment system. In the theory of attachment, in fact, there has been a relevant evolution in the early Seventies that stressed the issue of “feeling safe” rather than that of physical proximity, allowing a new conceptualization of the theory in terms of affective regulation and of representations of the self and of the other. This change contributed to freeing the theory of attachment from a perspective that made infancy the essential core of affective development, giving greater value to other stages of the life span and to the role of other figures – multiple caregivers – the father in the first place and the couple love relations. The most controversial and stimulating issue today derives from trying to verify if the theory of attachment can be applied to romantic relations, how much and how the relational models devised in the family of origin tend to be applied to adult relations. In this book the research group developed some basic issues in the field of romantic relations and presents the results of various studies where both narrative and self-reporting tools have been applied. The authors touch first the question of the structure of the concept of romantic attachment, starting from the relational and interpersonal function and from the intrapsychic function of this relation. In the first part of the book, the authors discuss a key issue that recently sparked a wide debate: the continuity/discontinuity of infant attachment and adult attachment. The question debated is if attachment can be considered a lasting trait of a person, influencing his functioning in intimate relations, or if it reflects and is modified by the individual experience in recent and adult relations. If we look at the first position, we could say that primary infantile relations, generalized in internal operating models, tend to influence the establishment of relations in later years, both in adolescence and adulthood. In the second position, instead, there would be a discontinuity between past and present, or at least, there would not be a linear transmission of the patterns built in childhood, and couple phenomena should be seen in the encounter of two psychic organizations and their mutual influence in the here and now. These themes fit well in the present debate on the comparison between the classical Freudian paradigm and the changes that the post-modern intersubjectivistic models caused in the psychoanalytical movement, to the point that we can wonder if the individual is an entity different from a couple, a family or a group and therefore if these two entities, the individual and the interpersonal, are completely different or interconnected. The authors describe the stages of development of adult romantic relations: pre-attachment – flirting; formation of attachment – falling in love; well delineated attachment, and show analogies in the behaviour of adult subjects and the primary mother-child relation both as concerns emotional features and motivational aspects, something already described by Freud and Bowlby. The attachment link, in fact, meets a few key requirements even in adults, such as a safe base and a safe haven that guarantee safety and stability that in turn allow and enhance exploratory behaviours, just like the awareness of an emotional presence provides comfort in case of stress. These aspects are discussed considering the behavioural systems typical of adulthood, such as caregiving and sexuality. In the first chapter the authors give a systematic outline of various theoretical questions, opting for what has been defined the dyadic nature of relations, a position referring to the idea of discontinuity of operational models. In other words, as many recent studies suggest (Feeney, 2004), in a significant relation, such as a couple relation, the attachment models of the partners affect the establishment and development of the relation, but it is the relation dynamics that most affects the attachment models of the partners in building a new reality at a different metalevel than the preceding individual patterns. This position is discussed with the help of clinical examples by presenting some of the most appreciated tools for assessing adult attachment in couples and families. In the second chapter the authors illustrate the representational level of research on attachment by means of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), a well known tool that is widely used in clinical research, but is less widespread in couple studies. One interesting novelty of this book is the presentation of the Current Relationship Interview (CRI), a semi-structured interview aiming at assessing the relation-specific attachment representation, prepared by Judith Crowell within the Stony Brook Adult Relationship Project (2003). The authors, after presenting the features of this tool, illustrate its areas of application: romantic background, current romantic relationship, safe base, safe haven, past (quality of the parental couple’s relation) and future, providing an overview of the studies and applications of this interview, commenting in particular those longitudinal studies that assessed the changes in the generalized individual attachment models as compared to the specific couple attachment models. This tool, new for the Italian public, is illustrated both as concerns the articulation of the questionnaire and the classification modes and attachment categories outlined. The authors also provide clinical examples where the interview was used that confirm their attention to the theoretical aspects of couple attachment and to the diffusion of tools for the assessment of the quality of significant relations in various areas of clinical intervention. The whole book, however, pays constant attention to the question of marital quality, also for the implications this issue has on the stability/instability of couple relations, on the wellbeing and illbeing of its members and any possible consequence on their children. In particular, in the sixth chapter, where the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) is presented, the authors discuss the theoretical and terminological confusions concerning the concept of marital quality, along with the wealth of studies where this concept is assimilated to that of satisfaction, successful couple relation, adaptation or complicity. In the literature we often find confusion between the perception of individual feelings and the perception of couple feelings, the first one related to a subjective and individual assessment of the couple members on their personal feeling of satisfaction, wellbeing, happiness, etc; the second related to the assessment of the style of communication and/or conflict existing in the couple relation. This problem is discussed again when presenting the category or dimension evaluation in the tools of self reporting on romantic attachment, where particular attention is paid to Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-R) of Fraley, Waller and Brennan. The psychometric features and the viability in clinical situations of this tool are discussed also with the help of an example that assesses both individual attachment and couple matching. The proximity of the theory of attachment with the psychoanalytical paradigm is discussed in depth in the fourth chapter of the book, dedicated to the theoretical links between the concept of reflexive function and romantic attachment. In this chapter the authors develop some basic issues within the two paradigms, i.e. the association between the caregiver’s capacity for “seeing” the mental state of the child and the acquisition of the capacity for mentalization, or the ability to respond, also in adult life, to the interpersonal exchanges with flexibility and adaptation. The originality of the authors’ approach resides in the application of the Scale of Reflexive Function prepared by Fonagy and Target (1997) to the transcript of the Current Relationship Interview, introducing the concept of mentalized affectivity, a kind of affective regulation that treats the range of affects through the lenses of self reflectiveness and is considered by the authors as one of the requirements for a satisfying relational life. In the last chapter the authors illustrate the Couple Life Space (Tamanza and Gozzoli), a joint projective tool deriving from the adaptation to the couple of the more familiar Family Life Space of Mostwin (1980, 1982) which allows, through a graphic representation, to see the type and quality of couple relation also considering the significant figures and the social context. The authors comment the profile of this tool and stress its usefulness in the area of difficult interactions and its ability in seeing how a couple governs its common life space both in the here and now (of the couple) and in terms of any real or possible critical events. These last considerations make us foresee a new challenge that the paradigm of attachment will have to face: the passage – or confrontation – from an initially individual starting point to an explanation of the intersubjetive dimensions. In this sense, the area of couple dynamics appears as an area rich of epistemological stimuli and of tools aimed at well capturing the relationship between the intrapsychic and the relational.
relazione di coppia
couple relationship
Italian
978-88-263-1636-9
Zavattini, G., Santona, A. (2007). La relazione di coppia. Valutazione e misure. Roma : Borla.
Zavattini, G; Santona, A
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/6642
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