The Relationship Between Internal Parental Representations and Psychopathology

Dayna Shapiro, Pace University


Attachment theory provides information about the way in which an infant connects to their caregiver and can inform future relationships. Most measurements of attachment focus on the parent's description of their attachment history and how they relate to their infants. The Hart Inventory of Parental Representations (1992) accounts for the child's description of his or her attachment to both caregivers. It combines psychoanalytic theory, object-relations theory and attachment theory and it can explain the child's thoughts about the self and others (Hart, 1992). It is a self-report measure that is easy to administer. It saves time in that there is no need for extensive interviews to administer and score. The use of the IPR in this study provided a deeper understanding of how children internalize their parental figures and how this impacts their well-being. The IPR was validated as a measure of internal parental representations with both high school and college students (Hart, 1992; Soliman, 2006). The following research study explored the association between attachment, psychopathology, and experiences in close relationships. While doing so, it further analyzed the structure of the Inventory of Parental Representations as a means of measuring more distinct scales of insecure attachment in a clinical population. The scale of facilitating individuation was removed as well as many items that did not load heavily on one construct. The research gathered from this study informs clinicians about attachment theory and its association with psychopathology in individuals within a clinical setting. It was found that the more insecure internal parental relationships were associated with depression, anxiety, borderline features, and other disorders but not with drug problems and aggression. This information informs treatment on how to use attachment-based approaches in creating a secure base so that the individual can integrate positive internal parental representations and symptomology can improve as a result.

Subject Area

Psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Shapiro, Dayna, "The Relationship Between Internal Parental Representations and Psychopathology" (2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10182967.



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