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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.

http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

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

 

Info:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201105/learning-your-attachment-style-can-light-your-life

http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-change-your-attachment-style/

http://www.psychalive.org/attachment-theory/

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

Attachment theory

Chi

Childhood

 

 

 

 

 

adult relationships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychologists have long analysed the link between people’s upbringings and their relationship choices when they are adults. There definitely seems to be a link between the type of childhood we have and the type of adult relationships we choose.

One of the main factors depends upon the relationship we had with the primary caregiver in our lives when we were growing up. The parental style of the primary care giver has a huge impact upon what we learn about the world and others as we grow up and form attitudes and beliefs about the world around us.

Four different attachment styles or patterns have been identified in children:  secure, anxious ambivalent, anxious avoidant and disorganized attachment.

If we had someone who was attentive and attended consistently to our needs when we were growing up, we tend to learn that the world will support us and meet our needs. This confidence leads us to enjoy secure attachments in adulthood.

If we had someone who was inconsistent, meeting our needs some of the time and not all of the time, this can teach us that the world is unpredictable and that we are not always going to get our needs met. This teaches a growing brain to be wary of others and can lead to an ambivalent-resistant attachment in adult relationships.

When a caregiver is too protective and stifles a child, not letting them explore and learn for themselves within reason, the child may be prone to experience anxious adult relationships, constantly requiring reassurance.

Obvious abuse and neglect in its extreme form can lead to an adult that is disorganised in their attachment style.

According to research, around 65% of children in the general population may be classified as having a secure pattern of attachment, with the remaining 35% being divided among the insecure classifications. About 80% of maltreated infants are likely to be classified as disorganized, as opposed to about 12% found in non-maltreated samples. Only about 15% of maltreated infants are likely to be classified as secure.

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” This theory has had huge implications in research and understanding emotional development. It also reminds us of how important the role of a parent/primary care giver is and how the way we are treated as children has long lasting effects on us for the rest of our lives. We are all affected differently though and some are more adversely affected by an abusive or unloving childhood than others.

Identifying your attachment style is a great way to gain insight into your personal triggers in relationships and gain a better, more comprehensive understanding of why we behave in certain ways as adults.

Mandy X

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxious-ambivalent_attachment#Attachment_patterns