NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, June 21, 2013

What Contributes to an Insecure Attachment Style?

I've written two prior blog articles about the early attachment bond and how it affects adult relationships:  How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships - Part 1 and How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 2 - Insecure Attachment Styles.  

Insecure Attachment Style

In this blog article, I would like to address what causes the primary caregiver, usually the mother, to have an insecure attachment style.

In my prior blog articles about attachment styles, I've discussed how important it is for the mother to be attuned to the infant.  When there is a lack of attunement due to an insecure attachment style, the child often grows up to have problems in his or her adult relationships.

As you might expect, mothers who have insecure attachment styles with their children (as described in my prior blog post) often grew up with mothers who also had insecure attachment styles, including avoidant, ambivalent, disorganized and reactive attachment styles.

Here are some of the major causes of an insecure attachment style:
  • physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • physical and/or emotional neglect
  • separation from a primary caregiver (illness, foster care, adoption, death, divorce)
  • inconsistent caregiving
  • frequent upheaval (moves or other major changes that create chaos)
  • maternal depression
  • maternal addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • young or inexperienced mothers
  • other traumatic experiences
This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the major causes.

Often, these situations can occur through no fault of the mother.  For instance, a mother might become physically sick or depressed and might require inpatient treatment, which necessitates that she is away from her infant for a substantial amount of time.

Another example, which is common, is a circumstance where a mother cannot afford to raise the infant or her life isn't stable enough to raise a baby, so she might send her child to live with relatives.  Since she is concerned about the baby's physical well being, she might have no choice but to send her child away. 

However, in doing so, there would be a disruption in the bonding process between mother and child that is usually detrimental.

Children Can Have Emotionally Reparative Experiences That Help to Mitigate the Early Bonding Disruption
Despite this, many children have emotionally reparative experiences with loving relatives, even if they are separated from their mother.  Depending upon the child, these loving, nurturing experiences can help to mitigate the disruption in the mother-child bond.

In my next blog article, I will discuss why it's important to be aware of the significant impact of the early mother-child attachment bond.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me: