CUP Undergraduate Research


The Effects of Abuse on Adult Attachment Styles: A Persuasive Literature Review

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Bryant Carlson


This persuasive literature review explored the effects of childhood abuse on later adult attachment styles. It first examined the basics of infant attachment and the importance of proximity that defines attachment in infancy. I then analyzed the structure and function of the brain and its role in the formation of attachment, which shapes the internal working model of an individual. Through the various literature, a consistent connection documented the effects of abuse, which disrupts the neural wiring that later causes a maladaptive cranial functioning in turn, causing a negative internal working model of self and of other. This impediment classifies most abused victims into the unresolved adult attachment category due to the inconsistencies found in their narrative process. Individuals in this category most often find themselves unworthy and undeserving of love. Therefore, when a child is abused, it damages their cranial activity creating a lasting negative impact on the individual’s internal working model. This then hinders with the formation of a functional relationship with whomever he or she loves as an adult.

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