Analyzing development of working models for disrupted attachments: The case of hidden family violence

Catherine C. Ayoub, Kurt W. Fischer, Erin E. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article offers a developmental model of attachment theory rooted in dynamic skill theory. Dynamic skill theory is based on the assumption that people do not have integrated, fundamentally logical minds, but instead develop along naturally fractionated strands of a web. Contrary to traditional interpretations of attachment theory, dynamic skill theory proposes that individuals continue to modify their working models of attachments throughout the lifespan. In particular, working models of close relationships develop systematically through a series of skill levels such that the skills vary across strands in the web and will not automatically form a unified whole. The continual modification of working models is particularly pertinent for the consequences of hidden family violence for individuals' development. Dynamic skill theory shows how trauma can produce not developmental delay or fixation, as has been proposed previously, but instead the construction of advanced, complex working models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-119
Number of pages23
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Attachment
  • Dynamic skill theory
  • Hidden family violence
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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