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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Early Attachment Bond and Insecure Attachment Styles

In my prior blog article,  How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships - Part 1, I introduced the attachment theory and the concept that early bonding attachment is very important in terms of its affect on adult relationships.   In this blog article, I will introduce the various attachment styles that mothers (or caregivers) can have, and describe the affect it has when children grow up on their relationships.

While there are no absolutes and there are certainly exceptions, according to attachment theory, the mother's attachment style, in terms of how she relates to her child, is one of the most important factors with regard to how the child will form relationships eventually when the child grows up.

Secure Attachment Style
As I mentioned in my prior article, when early bonding goes well, it bodes well for future adult relationships.  When the infant's mother is attuned to the baby's emotional needs, it is much more likely that when this infant grows up, s/he will be able to have healthy and meaningful adult relationships.  The optimal style of attachment in these cases is called a secure attachment.  As I mentioned before, the mother doesn't need to be "perfect."  She just needs to be good enough.

Early Attachment Bonds and Attachment Styles

When the Mother/Primary Caregiver Has Problems Forming a Bond With the Infant
Unfortunately, not all mothers can provide the optimal style of attachment to their infants.  In addition to the secure attachment style, there are four other categories, which are generally categorized as insecure attachment styles, in addition to the secure attachment style:

Insecure Attachment Styles
  • Avoidant Attachment Style
  • Ambivalent Attachment Style
  • Disorganized Attachment Style
  • Reactive Attachment Style
These attachment styles will be described here as if they are discrete styles to simplify these discussions.  However, keep in mind that it's really not that simple and that there can be variations or combinations of styles.

Let's take a look at the four insecure attachment styles.

Avoidant Attachment Style
Generally speaking, as the name implies the mother who has an avoidant attachment style tends to be unavailable or rejecting of the infant, which will often result in the child growing up to be an adult who avoids closeness.  Often, this person grows up to be an adult who is emotionally distant, critical, rigid and intolerant.

Ambivalent Attachment Style
The mother who has an ambivalent attachment style tends to be inconsistent with the infant.  Sometimes, this mother can be intrusive.  The adult who was raised by a mother with an ambivalent attachment style is often anxious and insecure.  He or she might be controlling, critical and erratic.

Disorganized Attachment Style
The mother who has a disorganized attachment style tends to ignore the child's needs.  Often, the mother doesn't understand or even see what the child's needs are.  The mother's behavior can be frightening and traumatizing at times.  The adult who was raised with a mother who had a disorganized attachment style often grows up be chaotic and insensitive.  S/he can be explosive, abusive and mistrustful of others.

Reactive Attachment Style
The mother who has a reactive attachment style is very detached or unable to function with the child. The adult who grew up with a mother who had a reactive attachment style often has a great deal of difficulty forming positive relationships.

In a future blog post, I'll describe the causes of insecure attachment.

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.