A phenomenological study of adult attachment in adult male sexual offenders

Tamara Dana Kanter, University of Pennsylvania


Researchers have reported that attachment plays a role in the etiology and maintenance of sexual offending behavior (Marshall, 1996). It has been demonstrated that sexual offenders tend to have insecure or poor attachments in childhood (Marshall, 1996), which may also negatively affect the quality of their attachments in adulthood. While there has been positivistic research in this area, currently, there has been no phenomenological work. Therefore, there is a lack of understanding of adult male sexual offenders' adult attachments. This was a retrospective study that explored the self-appraisals of adult male sexual offenders who had either participated in treatment or who were involved in a treatment program. This qualitative exploratory study investigated the lived experiences of six male sexual abusers to gain an understanding of their experience of attachment with regard to their current primary partners. The data were generated through in-depth semi-structured face-to-face interviews. After the analysis of the data was completed, the superordinate theme of shame was identified with four sub-themes. These sub-themes included damaged self, avoidance, and acceptance. These themes emerged as the fundamental thematic structures of the experience of sexual offenders' adult attachments for the informants of this study. The findings of this dissertation help in improving the understanding of attachment as it pertains specifically to sexual offenders. This research was a preliminary phenomenological study aimed at providing some practical and useful information to guide professionals involved in the treatment of sexual offenders.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Kanter, Tamara Dana, "A phenomenological study of adult attachment in adult male sexual offenders" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9976437.