Attachment is an important part of our lifespan development. I think it is important to learn more about it and to be able to recognize the different patterns of attachments so we can identify the potential problems they could bring for us and others. Our mode of attachment helps determine how we communicate our needs and how we go about having them met and our ability to build relationships in the future. Knowing more about them can help us become more self- aware and encourage us to change our own pattern of attachment so we can maintain more healthy relationships.
After the research work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in 80s psychologists and counselors believe that those very first bonds we make with our caregivers when we are very small could determine how we relate to the world and everyone around us in our adult lives. The way our caregivers respond to our needs becomes the foundation of our cognitive, emotional and social development. It also teaches us to believe if the world is a safe place or not.
The few particular styles of attachments are secure, insecure ambient, insecure avoidant and disorganized .
When a child is treated with warmth and understanding and their caregivers act like a secure base and haven , they are known to grow up as confident and self-reliant adults who have positive self-image and identity. They are able to explore and see the world as a trustworthy place and have appropriate bonds with peers and others because of the positive interactions they have experienced. As adults they form open,honest relationships where mutual trust and respect prevails. Both partners feel deeply connected but independent and equal to one another.
Children whose parents are and have been emotionally unavailable, unresponsive and rejecting to their needs present themselves as angry and easily emotionally detached (insecure avoidant). They have learned not to communicate their needs and are highly independent in their later life. Kids have poor social, communication and academic skills, lack motivation and struggle to form healthy relationships due to the lack in trust in people. As adults they struggle with intimacy and making deep bonds with anyone in general and hide that through the strong need for independence and freedom. They are often branded as heartless because of their ability to detach from everything and everyone so easily and have adopted the defense mechanism to not need anyone to emotionally regulate and have no problem with others not being close to them. This particular attachment is probably the hardest to change but it is not impossible if you really try to. I will do a separate piece on the topic if anyone is interested learning more about it.
Caregivers who are inconsistent in the way they respond to their children (insecure ambient attachment) are observed to have kids who are usually clingy, angry and have higher anxiety as they are unsure if they will have their needs met. In their later life they are highly dependent on their parents and usually get into abusive relationships living with the fear of being abandoned. Those people become adults who are unable to be alone. Due their deeply rooted insecurities are easily manipulated and overdependent on others.
Presence of maternal depression, parental death, severe neglect and abuse classes children who have had such traumatic experiences as having a disorganized attachment. They may show no impressions or be completely switched off, frightened and chaotic. In their later life they often adopt hostile behaviour, become anti-social, fall behind academically and struggle to form any kinds of relationships with others. These people have similar attachment style to the dismissive avoidant ones with the difference that they have high anxiety when they feel their partners are not responding to their needs and are unable to regulate their emotions. Think of those people who stalk and threaten you if your relationship fails.
It is important to note that attachment styles can change all through our lives especially if we are faced with adversity. For example a child/adult could have had a very secure attachment style that can become insecure due to his caregivers being unable to continue to respond appropriately. The vice versa is also possible even though it is a little harder. People with an insecure and disorganized attachments can also through therapy and other adjustments that promote resilience can learn to trust the world around them and form healthy relationships in the future.
Hope all this information makes sense to you and you find it helpful.
Can you spot your own attachment style ?
All the love