Title: Using attachment theory to improve the care of people with dementia

Authors: K. de Vries, J. McChrystal

Addresses: University of Worcester Association for Dementia Studies, Institute of Health and Society, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove Campus, Worcester, WR2 6AJ, UK. ' Rise Group Practice, London N19 3YU, UK; Brunel University Counselling Service, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK

Abstract: Bowlby|s attachment theory has been used to uncover the emotional meaning of behavioural responses to loss and abandonment in people with dementia caused by variant CJD. Insecure attachment behaviour, such as rocking and howling, was observed in the group when placed in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers and on departure of family members. This behaviour did not occur in familiar surroundings or in the presence of familiar people. Grieving behaviour in individuals, young or old, confronted with the (threatened) loss of an emotional link with people who are important to them, was fundamental to the experiences of these people with variant CJD. We suggest that attachment behaviour can be construed as a |normal| response of humans in times of extreme distress, illness and loss and can be even more marked in the presence of cognitive impairment where there is reduced ability to adequately express emotion.

Keywords: attachment theory; John Bowlby; variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease; vCJD; variant CJD; illness; bereavement; loss; dementia care; emotional meaning; behavioural responses; abandonment; Alzheimer|s disease; insecure attachment behaviour; rocking; howling; unfamiliar surroundings; strangers; family members; families; familiarity; grieving; grief; emotional links; hospices; UK; United Kingdom; distress; cognitive impairment; work organisation; emotion; virtual feelings; visceral feelings.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2010.032927

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2010 Vol.3 No.3, pp.287 - 301

Published online: 05 May 2010 *

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