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Alfonso Troisi

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date: 22 April 2021

The opposite of detachment is possessiveness, which generally reflects a personality profile characterized by anxious attachment. This chapter describes the psychological and behavioral traits that characterize people with anxious attachment and discusses two clinical conditions related to abnormal levels of possessiveness: child abuse and pathological jealousy. The discussion of these two conditions is based on very different databases. Whereas descriptions and explanations of pathological jealousy are based on psychiatric literature, the analysis of child abuse consists of a synopsis of studies of spontaneous cases of maternal abuse of offspring in monkeys, including the successful pharmacological treatment of abusive mothers. Also recounted is the author’s correspondence with John Bowlby regarding interpretation of the observations in monkeys. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of the psychological mechanisms that motivate normal jealousy in intimate relationships and of gender differences in jealousy, along with evolutionary explanations for such differences.

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