Attachment states of mind, mentalization, and their correlates in a first-episode psychosis sample


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Angus MacBeth, Section of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow, Academic Centre, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, UK (e-mail:


Objectives. Although there has been increased interest in applying attachment theory to the psychological understanding of psychosis, research to date has focused on self-reported attachment and psychotic symptomatology. This study presents evidence for applying attachment and mentalization constructs to understanding engagement and adaptation to first-episode psychosis (FEP), using a narrative based interview.

Design. A cross-sectional cohort design was used.

Methods. Thirty-four individuals with a first episode of psychosis were interviewed using the Adult Attachment Interview. Attachment classifications and reflective function scores were derived from the interview. Psychotic symptomatology, premorbid adjustment, duration of untreated psychosis, and psychological variables were also measured.

Results. Attachment distribution was heterogeneous in the sample, although the majority of participants were classified dismissing of attachment. Mentalization scores were consistent with previous clinical samples. Attachment and mentalization were unrelated to psychotic symptomatology.

Conclusions. The current study demonstrates, albeit with a small clinical sample, the importance of assessing attachment and mentalization via narrative methods. The findings also have clinical implications for understanding the process of engagement and adaptation in FEP.