Sep 16, 2009

John Rosemond got it wrong

In a Baltimore Sun article, Sept 2nd 09, John Rosemond, wrote an article that is inaccurate regarding the factors sometimes associated with adoption. He claims that "Attachment Disorder lacks scientific proof," and goes on to state, "The facts: A consistent body of hard, objectively gathered scientific evidence to the effect that adopted children are more prone to psychological problems than children who live with one or two biological parents is lacking." The article goes on to criticize "adoption specialists," and describes the "case" of a three-year old to bolster his point. I find that the article is simplistic and distorted.

Mr. Rosemond has little or no training on the subject about which he is writing here. Mr. Rosemont is a "Psychological Associate," holding a MS. His background does not qualify him to offer expert advice on this particular topic.

Mr. Rosemond's statement is just wrong. Many children adopted through the child welfare system and internationally have suffered years of maltreatment (abuse and/or neglect). As you know, in the US and most countries, it is very difficult to remove a child from the parents and even more difficult to terminate parental rights. Things have to be pretty gruesome to have a parent's rights terminated and the child placed for adoption. So, the facts are: There is a consistent body of hard, objectively gathered scientific evidence to the effect that adopted children are more prone to psychological problems than children raised from birth. For example, Approximately 2% of the population is adopted, and between 50% and 80% of such children have attachment disorder symptoms (Carlson, Cicchetti, Barnett, & Braunwald, 1995; Cicchetti, Cummings, Greenberg, & Marvin, 1990).Children who have experienced chronic maltreatment and resulting complex trauma are at significant risk for a variety of other behavioural, neuropsychological, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal and psychobiological disorders (Cook et al. 2005; van der Kolk 2005). Many children with histories of maltreatment are violent (Robins 1978) and aggressive (Prino & Peyrot 1994) and as adults are at risk of developing
a variety of psychological problems (Schreiber & Lyddon 1998) and personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder (Finzi et al. 2000), narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and psychopathic personality disorder (Dozier et al. 1999). Neglected children are at risk of social withdrawal, social rejection and pervasive feelings
of incompetence (Finzi et al. 2000). Children who have histories of abuse and neglect are at significant risk of developing PostTraumatic Stress Disorder as adults (Andrews et al. 2000; Allan 2001). Children who have been sexually abused are at significant risk of developing anxiety disorders (2.0 times the average), major depressive disorders (3.4 times average), alcohol abuse (2.5 times average), drug abuse (3.8 times average) and antisocial behaviour (4.3 times average) (MacMillian 2001). The effective treatment of such children is a public health concern (Walker et al. 1992).

Mr. Rosemont goes on to state, " On the other hand, there is significant evidence to the effect that even orphaned children exposed during their early, supposedly "formative" years to severe conditions of emotional deprivation and material neglect recover quite nicely when adopted by loving parents." This statement does have an element of truth to it. One element of helping children who have experienced chronic early maltreatment within a caregiving relationship is loving parents. But there are other elements necessary to address and resolve the underlying traumas that may be continuing to distort the child's relationships and psychological functioning.


Brenda said...

This is so disheartening. We went through a long list of therapists before finding an attachment therapist. I know one of the past therapists did not believe in RAD. One said attachment was not the issue because "all of us attach at least some to different levels. We are even attached to the mail man at some level". WHAT???? Is it healthy for children to attach to their mothers at the same level in which adults attach to their mailman? It was a very frustrating journey for us and what is most disturbing is the amount of damage a counselor can do to parents and children when they do not understand attachment.

Arthur Becker-Weidman, PhD said...

Dear Brenda,

Yes, it is disheartening. Mr. Rosemond is not an expert in this topic and he really should stick to his areas of expertise. (He received a letter of reprimand in 1988 and Consent Order dated 9/22/95 from the NC Board of Psychologists because, "In March 1992, Respondent published an article for syndication entitled "Is child in terrible 2's or in trauma?," which gave rise to the issuance of a statement of charges by the Board. In its letter of May 10, 1993, the Board alleged that Respondent, in publishing the article, may have violated Principles 4g and 4k of the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists (1981, as amended), as well as the conditions of a previous reprimand issued by the Board in 1988."

Brenda said...

I'm glad to hear this was taken seriously by the board. RAD is a daignosis in the DSM-IV. Could he say bi-polar does not exist because of his lack of knowledge? I don't think so. It is sad RAD has become so prevalent in our society. I think treatment is essential and prevention MUST be addressed. I am very interested in working with young pregnant teens on parenting as well.

Elizabeth Frick said...
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Arthur Becker-Weidman, PhD said...

Dear Elizabeth,

Thanks for your comments. You know, Mr. Rosemond has been repremanded or sanctioned twice by the North Carolina Board of Psychology for writing about topics that are beyond his expertise and appeared to violate APA standards of ethics (pts 4g & 4k) and was required for three years to have a supervior.

I am sorry you have had some difficult times with family. That is hard.

You may find the book I wrote, Creating Capacity for Attachment helpful for you and your family. Other good resources can we found at Finally, You might look at Daniel Hughes new book, Attachment-Focused Parenting.



Elizabeth Frick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.