Tag Archives: Attachment theory

Attachment theory and adult relationships


attachment theory

Attachment theory and adult relationships

The style of care we receive as infants and children sets up our attachment type for our adult relationships. Attachment theory looks at three types of attachment: anxious, ambivalent and secure. The way our primary care giver treated us teaches us about human interaction. Is the world a safe place? Do we get our needs met consistently? How is it for us when our caregiver leaves us alone?

Secure Attachment as an infant (50% of population)

If our care giver consistently met our needs, picked us up when we cried and helped us feel safe we are more likely to develop a secure attachment and go on to have fairly stable adult relationships built on a strong stable foundation.

Anxious Avoidant Attachment as an infant(25%)

Parents of children with an avoidant/anxious attachment tend to be emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to them a good deal of the time. They disregard or ignore their children’s needs, and can be especially rejecting when their child is hurt or sick. They frequently rationalize their lack of response by saying they are trying not to spoil the child with “too much” affection or attention. These parents also discourage crying and encourage premature independence in their children.

In response, the avoidant/anxiously attached child learns early in life to suppress the natural desire to seek out a parent for comfort when frightened, distressed, or in pain.

Anxious Ambivalent Attachment as an infant(20%)

When parents or caregivers interact with their children in ways that are inconsistent and unpredictable, the children develop ambivalent/anxious attachment patterns. Attachmentresearchers describe the behavior of these adults, noting how at times they are nurturing, attuned and respond effectively to their child’s distress, while at other times they are intrusive, insensitive or emotionally unavailable. For example, they can be neglectful and then later try to make up for it by being overindulgent. When parents vacillate between two very different responses, their children become confused and distrustful, not knowing what kind of treatment to expect

The poet Philip Larkin was not the first or the last to notice that parents, “they fuck you up.”  How you are as a parent makes a huge difference in the neural development of your child for the first four or five years. While John Bowlby is known as the father of attachment, a prodigiously smart psychologist who worked briefly as his researcher, Mary Salter Ainsworth, is the one who brought his theory to life. In 1954, Ainsworth’s husband got a job in Uganda and she accompanied him, determined to set up a research project testing her and Bowlby’s budding theory with real people. After a year of observing Ganda mothers and babies, she noticed that the babies who cried the least had the most attentive mothers. And she saw how “maternal attunement” to babies’ cues seemed to determine these patterns.

Four Adult Attachment Styles

Secure Attachment (low avoidance, low anxiety): If you relate positively to others and yourself, you probably have a secure attachment style. Securely attached people are generally happy in their relationships, feeling that they and others are sensitive and responsive to each other.  They sense that connection can provide comfort and relief in times of need. They also feel that they are good, loved, accepted, and competent people.

Preoccupied Attachment (low avoidance, high anxiety): If you are always worried about what others think of you and don’t really factor in your thoughts and feelings, this style of attachment most likely fits you. People with a preoccupied attachment style feel a powerful need to be close to others, and they show this by clinging. They need a lot of validation and approval. They are concerned that others don’t value them, and they also doubt their own worth in relationships. So, they often worry a lot about their relationships.

Dismissing-Avoidant Style (high avoidance, low anxiety): Although the need for connection is biologically wired in people, those with this style of attachment deny it. They like to see themselves as independent and self-sufficient; and they minimize the importance of relationships. To keep their relationships unimportant, they suppress or hide their feelings. They also often think of other people less positively than they think of themselves. When faced with rejection, they cope with it by distancing themselves.

Fearful-Avoidant Style (high avoidance, high anxiety): People with this style of attachment tend to think of themselves as flawed, dependent, and helpless. And, they think they aren’t worthy of loving or caring responses from their partners. As a result, they don’t trust that others see them positively, and they expect to get hurt. So, although they want to be close to others, they also fear it. Understandably, they often avoid intimacy and suppress their feelings.

Attachment Questionnaire: which style are you?

Try this link if you would like to know more about your attachment style.


We all need human connection. Understanding our attachment style can help us to feel closer to others and to find ways to counteract our negative limiting behaviours if we do have an anxious or fearful attachment style.

It is only by facing our fears (with baby steps if necessary) that we can learn to minimise fears and overcome our limiting beliefs about relationships and love.

Mandy X







Emotional detachment disorder


emotional detachment disorder

Emotional detachment disorder

There are many causes of emotional detachment disorder and it manifests differently for everyone although there are core features:

Emotional detachment disorder often forms in response to some sort of severe emotional trauma. As children, we are in an unequal relationship with adults who are powerful. If there is any type of abuse going on, a child often can’t escape and has to learn mental techniques to cope with the emotional trauma. These coping strategies often include distancing or detaching from feeling anything. It’s almost as if there is a different compartment in the brain where a person can go to shut of the unbearable emotional pain. In its most severe from – multiple personality disorder can form.

The problem with learning to detach emotionally from emotional trauma is that when we are in healthy relationships, that mistrust stays and at the slightest hint of hurt or rejection, a person with emotional  detachment disorder will withdraw and become cold and unavailable for communication and sharing of feelings. This can interfere with healthy relationships.

Symptoms of detached personality disorder

  1. An inability to express emotions
  2. A lack of emotional intelligence – unable to show empathy towards others
  3. Regularly feeling numb
  4. Displaying little emotion especially when it is appropriate to do so
  5. An inability to identify one’s own emotions
  6. Thinking in an overly logical or rational way
  7. Unsuccessful relationships due to minimal connection on an emotional level
  8. Being able to switch emotions ‘off’ at will

Feeling emotions is normal and healthy. Someone who has learned to suppress their emotions will often develop unhealthy behaviours to compensate for this suppression – such as many encounter with others sexually in a very casual manner, fear of intimacy, drugs, alcohol, gambling or other forms of ‘escape’.

Counselling is an effective way to start identifying emotions and allowing yourself to feel again. Learning to feel emotions is scary but it makes life more exhilarating. It’s like being plugged back into the electricity – there will be highs and lows but you will feel alive again, instead of feeling you are just surviving and going through the motions.

Mandy X


The Importance of your childhood


child photo

The importance of your childhood

Our childhoods leave us with a lasting impression, one that affects us throughout our lives. As infants, we are a ‘blank slate’ upon which early experiences make their mark. If our parents are kind, consistent and loving we learn that the world is a safe place to be in. If our parents are neglectful, cruel or unpredictable in their love and care, we generalise this experience and see the world as an unsafe place where others can’t be trusted. (If you want to know more about this – look up “Attachment Theory by John Bowlby).

Part of what makes us who we are is genetically determined, such as whether we are shy or outgoing but many of our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and the world come from how our parents treated us and what we observed as children. Our childhoods leave us with a ‘story’ that colours the way we see the world. Sometimes, we deny the story exists or we see it through rose-tinted glasses but our story will begin to show us its influence through our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms. Sometimes, when we find ourselves acting in ways we never thought we would, it might just be your background story trying to tell you something.

If you find yourself acting out of character, looking for ways to escape your reality, there might just be an underlying issue that needs addressing.

Possible signs that show you haven’t dealt with your past adequately:

  • You regularly look for ways to escape your life – through drugs, alcohol or unhealthy excessive behaviours.
  • You have uncontrollable rage or anger that seems hard to manage.
  • You have had a pattern of unhappy/unhealthy relationships.
  • You have many secrets in your life, possibly a double life that no one knows about.
  • There is a lack of open and honest communication between family members.
  • You see the world as unsafe where others can never be trusted.

There are many possible signs that you may not have dealt with issues from your past. More often than not, residual damage will continue to influence you in later life. If you feel that you have become stuck in a cycle of self sabotage it may be time to seek the help of a professional – a counsellor or psychologist.

Getting the most out of life means taking control of past demons and laying them to rest. Dealing with the negative emotions such as guilt or resentment can take a huge weight off our shoulders and let you live a life free of unnecessary emotional baggage.

Mandy X

Ten Truths About Life


Thinking RFID

Thinking RFID (Photo credit: @boetter)


 Truths about life


1) Your upbringing will influence you for the rest of your life

Your emotional memories—of a parent you adored or feared, create pathways in the limbic part of the brain. Every time you revisit those memories, positive or negative, you reinforce the path, deepening a trench of emotional connection. Throughout life, your unconscious mind embraces any new person who reminds you of those older paths. They exert an almost irresistible pull, compelling you to make decisions that feel like choices but are actually automatic responses guided by the map of your past: It’s like a ghost road that lures in passers-by. Your adult style attachment will be influenced by the type of attachment you had with your primary caregiver. If your needs were met consistently you will tend to have a secure attachment style – the style that offers the best hope for positive healthy adult relationships.

2) You will be let down by someone close to you at least once

We will all be let down at some point. Don’t feel alone, it’s part of life. See it as a rite of passage into discovering life.


3) Happiness is a fleeting sensation

Happiness does not persist in it’s pure form for days on end. It’s a little like an orgasm. You feel it, hopefully you acknowledge it and think to yourself “I feel really happy right now” and then it fades. You can still feel content but that real happy feeling is fleeting


4) Money doesn’t automatically bring happiness

This is one we all know but perhaps need reminding about sometimes. It’s easy to think that those with money are carefree but the fact is they aren’t. It’s just the nature of their problems that change. Money doesn’t make people love you nor does it make you a wonderful person or give you a healthy attitude to life. It has its limits.


5) Uncertainty and change are certain

Being tolerant of change is uncertainty is a mental strength. As soon as you accept that change is inevitable you can get on with the task of managing it rather than resisting it. Much more useful.


6) Thoughts can create heaven or hell under the exact same circumstances

Watch your thinking – your thoughts are not fact. You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind.


7) Nasty toxic people are only projecting their inner misery


Never take an insult to heart again. Toxic people are miserable people. They are merely giving you a taster of what they feel like inside all the time..comfort yourself with this thought and be thankful that your inner world is more balanced than theirs.


8)We are conditioned to conform by school, authoritative figures, society…

Be a critical thinker and always question why you are doing something. Is it because you want to or is it because you feel obliged to?


9) Ignorant parents are the cause of a lot of trouble in the world today

Most of the troubled teens and young adults I have worked with have had awful upbringings. Their parents have been neglectful, have abused them or been poor role models, allowing their children to witness drug abuse and other horrific life realities.


10) Congruency – key to peace of mind

Always work to be “at one” with your inner self (the real vulnerable you) and the person that you present to the world. When we are true to our essential selves, peace of mind follows.


11) True fulfilment comes from thinking beyond yourself – meaning and purpose

Help others out, show kindness and give of your time and compassion. It really makes a huge difference to the meaning of life. When we are self serving, life becomes small and incestuous and ultimately unhealthy.


12) We are born equal and ‘leave’ equal

We arrive alone, a clean slate and we leave alone eventually. I use this to maintain perspective on what’s important in life. Make each day count and keep your eye on the bigger picture. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.

In many ways, we are all living parallel lives, going through similar experiences. The next time you feel alone or isolated, remember that someone, somewhere is experiencing exactly what you are. You are never really alone.

Mandy X


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