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The author's doctoral dissertation, Malattachment and the Self Struggle, offers an in-depth portrait of intergenerational attachment disruption, its relationship to depression and defensive personality disorders, and approaches to healing-all within the context of the fictional narrative of Pearl, for whom "mothering tears her open, then urges her to wholeness." This excerpt features an explanation of the effects and implications of an attuned attachment relationship between infant and caregiver, casting it as critical developmental nourishment and terming its corruption malattachment; the importance of the caregiver's own self-narrative; a discussion of the unconscious implicit learning and memory processes that engrave lifelong relational patterns in the growing child; a portrayal of personality "disorders" as the self struggle-adaptive survival strategies forged in the face of thwarted attachment; and the seldom-explored notion of energetic abandonment. These theoretical discussions are set against the relief of Pearl's suffering the dual cut of the wounded-mother knife: the agony of her own parched capacity to mother her son, and the painful awakening of her own long-dormant malattachment wounds.

KEY WORDS: attachment; malattachment; relational trauma; postpartum depression; mothering; brain development; neurobiology; personality disorders; narcissism; borderline; depression; narrative


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JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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