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Conceptualizing the Process of Identity Development in People with Insecure Attachment Open Access


Other title
Identity Development
grounded theory
Insecure Attachment
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Katherie Porter
Supervisor and department
Dr. Paul Wishart
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Colleen MacDougall
Dr. John Carr
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality
Degree level
The purpose of this research was to generate a theory regarding the development of identity in people with insecure attachment. In semistructured interviews, the researcher asked five co-researchers, three women and two men, about areas of identity. The questions covered career development, emotional experience, grief and loss, religious or spiritual beliefs, and the co-researcher’s name. The methodological framework for this study was constructivist grounded theory. The process of data analysis involved coding, developing categories, and memo-writing. Theory emerged from the data by the constant comparative method. Awareness of researcher reflexivity was sustained during the design, interviewing, data analysis, and writing stages of the study. Fundamental to attachment theory was John Bowlby’s (as cited in Rothbard & Shaver, 1994) assertion that the child develops “internal working models” (p. 33) of the attachment figure and of the self in interaction with the attachment figure. These templates are based on the repeated interactions between infants and their primary caregivers during the first year of life and become the model for the child’s conceptions of self and self in relationships (West & Sheldon-Keller, 1994, p. 36). The present study proposes a Working Model of Self in People with Insecure Attachment. The co-researchers’, or participants’, working model was composed of mistrust, isolation, independent thought, and hiding self. As a consequence of failure in the attachment system, the Working Model of Self in People with Insecure Attachment, and the resulting emotional and social delays, the participants experienced a lost self. All of the participants experienced mental health crises in early to middle adulthood. The three female participants “found themselves” by a journey of reconnection with their emotional and spiritual self.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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