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Recognizing the Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder
By Roshaun Coombs, Psychology Intern
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a behavioral condition arising from the abandonment and neglect of children by their parents or caregivers. RAD can develop as early as infancy if a child’s basic needs for comfort are not sufficiently met or met in an abusive and uncaring manner. As a result, that child may fail to develop healthy physical and emotional attachments to caregivers and others and, instead, learns to believe that people can’t be trusted.
There are two main subtypes of reactive attachment disorder—inhibited and uninhibited. Children displaying inhibited RAD are withdrawn and detached in social settings and resist close relationships. In contrast, children that manifest disinhibited RAD are apt to force themselves into relationships indiscriminately, often with inappropriate people. In some cases, children display behavioral signs from both subtypes.
The impact of reactive attachment disorder cannot be reversed. Individuals with RAD face lifelong social and emotional challenges. Intervention by mental health specialists becomes critical, as children and adults with RAD are more at risk for developing other psychological and psychiatric difficulties.
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