Today I was asked if Adult Attachment Disorder was “real.” When asked what was meant, they responded by asking if AAD had a definition within The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Yes and no.
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was first defined in the DSM-3, according to a review for the DSM-5 (an update due for release in May, 2013) written by Charles H. Zeanah, M.D., and Mary Margaret Gleason, M.D. for the American Psychiatric Association.
RAD is the name given to attachment disorders as they appear in children. The review by Dr.s Zeanah and Gleason will update the definition of RAD in a number of ways that reflect current research.
So the DSM does not have a definition of “Adult Attachment Disorder” per se. However, there is a substantial body of work relating RAD to adult behaviors (see: A Brief Overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research by Dr. R. Chris Fraley).
The assumption is that behaviors around attachment developed in childhood impact relationships one is capable of forming as an adult, and possibly result from biological survival mechanisms.