The role of attachment in interaction with other relationships and conditions was investigated in relation to children's later psychosocial development (at ages 6 and 9). Thirty-nine unipolar depressed mothers, 24 bipolar mothers, and 32 normal control mothers and their children were studied. The network of conditions defining early experience included, in addition to attachment, maternal psychopathology, marital discord, other disordered relationships in the family, and recent losses of significant persons. Patterns of mother-child interaction were also examined. Assessments of children's problems were based on psychiatric evaluations of depressive affect, anxiety, and disruptive-oppositional behavior.
The findings support the conclusion that attachment enters into development in interaction with other relationships and conditions. Maternal psychopathology, in particular, in interaction with the attachment relationship, is linked to later developmental outcomes. The importance of considering mother-child interactional and dispositional characteristics is indicated. The early attachment relationship together with the ways in which the mother's depression is expressed with her child, and the child's style of coping with the mother's functioning establish patterns of behavior that influence the child's vulnerability to later problems. Multiple pathways of transmission of affective problems are discussed.