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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 818157, 6 pages
Research Article

Reactive Attachment Disorder in the General Population: A Hidden ESSENCE Disorder

1Academic Unit of Mental Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Caledonia House, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK
2Psychological Services, North Lanarkshire Council, St Brendan's Primary School, 45 Barons Road, Motherwell ML1 2NB, UK
3Young People In Mind Service, Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandria G83 0UA, UK

Received 18 February 2013; Accepted 27 March 2013

Academic Editors: W. M. Bahk, V. Di Michele, S. M. Dursun, M. Mazza, and T. Shioiri

Copyright © 2013 Rachel Pritchett et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a severe disorder of social functioning. Previous research has shown that children with RAD may have poor cognitive and language abilities; however, findings mainly come from biased, institutionalised samples. This paper describes the characteristics of all children who were given a suspected or likely diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder in an epidemiological study of approximately 1,600 children investigating the prevalence of RAD in the general population. We found that children with RAD are more likely to have multiple comorbidities with other disorders, lower IQs than population norms, more disorganised attachment, more problem behaviours, and poorer social skills than would be found in the general population and therefore have a complex presentation than can be described as ESSENCE. We discuss the clinical and educational implications.