Turgeon, J., Milot, T. et St-Laurent, D. (2023). Traumatismes relationnels et état d’esprit hostile-impuissant : Mieux comprendre la désorganisation de l’attachement à l’âge adulte. Canadian Psychology. 


Chronic relational trauma experienced in childhood has significant consequences for an individual’s social–emotional development and can lead to the internalization of unintegrated, unbalanced patterns of parent–child relationships in the form of what Lyons-Ruth et al. (2005) have entitled as a Hostile-Helpless state of mind. This concept refers to a type of disorganized attachment in adulthood that is characterized by a lack of coherent integration of negative childhood experiences. Results from a growing number of scientific studies support the relevance of this concept to better understand the psychological functioning of adults with a history of childhood trauma. The purpose of this article is to present a conceptual description of the Hostile-Helpless state of mind as described by Lyons-Ruth et al. (2005) and to use theoretical and empirical literature to discuss its clinical and scientific relevance. To date, findings from a variety of studies show associations between the Hostile-Helpless state of mind and childhood maltreatment, mental health problems, child adjustment problems, and parent–child difficulties. Studies that have compared the Hostile-Helpless state of mind to other forms of disorganized attachment representations in adulthood (e.g., unresolved state of mind) highlight its discriminant validity. These studies also support the relevance of the Hostile- Helpless state of mind in better understanding attachment representations among clinical and at-risk populations. Avenues for future intervention and research are proposed in light of the current literature. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)



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