Insightfulness and later infant attachment in clinically depressed and nonclinical mothers

Brigitte Ramsauer*, Annett Lotzin, Julia H. Quitmann, Fabienne Becker-Stoll, Anne Tharner, Georg Romer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the relationship between maternal insightfulness and sensitivity and subsequent infant attachment security and disorganization in clinically depressed and nonclinical mother-infant groups. Nineteen depressed mothers with infants ages 3 to 11 months participated in this study. Twenty nonclinical mother-infant dyads were matched to the clinical sample according to infant sex and age. Maternal depression was assessed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), insightfulness using the Insightfulness Assessment (IA), and sensitivity using the Maternal Sensitivity Scales (M.D.S. Ainsworth, 1969). IA classifications and subscales were considered separately. Later infant attachment was assessed by the Strange Situation Procedure (M.D.S. Ainsworth, M.C. Blehar, E. Waters, & S. Wall, 1978). Depressed mothers tended to have less securely attached children than did nonclinical mothers. Within the clinical sample, the insightfulness categories correlated slightly moderately with attachment security, but were not related to attachment disorganization. Within the nonclinical sample, the IA categories were slightly moderately associated with attachment security and with disorganization. On IA subscales, relationship patterns differed in clinically depressed and nonclinical mother-infant dyads. These findings provide the first evidence of the predictive power of the IA categorization and subscales on subsequent infant attachment. They also may allow the development of different foci of intervention for enhancing insightful caregiving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-219
Number of pages10
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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