Attachment and borderline personality disorder: A theory and some evidence

Peter Fonagy, Mary Target, George Gergely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

209 Citations (Scopus)


An attachment theory approach to severe personality disorder is described. Evidence is presented that suggests that representations of attachment relationships and attachment behaviors of patients with this diagnosis are commonly disorganized in character. It is argued that the capacity to develop mental representations of mental states in self and other (reflective function) develops in the context of attachment relationships and that disorganization of attachment undermines this process. Such disorganization can be associated with trauma but may also be linked to other biological and psychosocial deficits. Many of the clinical characteristics of patients with borderline personality disorder may be seen as consequences of disordered self-organization and a limited rudimentary capacity to think about behavior in mental state terms. The relevance of this model for the practice of psychotherapy with this group of patients is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
JournalPsychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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