Report #11 Reactive attachment disorder: Concepts, treatment and research


Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a disorder characterized by controversy, both with respect to its definition and its treatment. By definition, the RAD diagnosis attempts to characterize and explain the origin of certain troubling behaviors in children. The RAD diagnosis presumes that “pathogenic care” of a young child can result in an array of markedly disturbed behaviors in social interactions and poor attachments to caregivers and others. (See full definition in the body of this report). The RAD diagnosis derives from the attachment theories of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Several authors question whether RAD is a valid diagnostic category, citing the overlap of symptoms with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and other disorders, the inconsistent connection to attachment theory, and the lack of empirical validation.






Uta M. Walter
Chris Petr

Original Work Citation

Walter, U. M., & Petr, C. (2004, June). Report #11 Reactive attachment disorder: Concepts, treatment and research. University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare and the Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services



“Report #11 Reactive attachment disorder: Concepts, treatment and research,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 30, 2021,

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