About Attachment

What is Attachment?

  • It’s in our biology! When a human infant gestates inside of his or her mother, a special area in the infant brain develops that is intended for the formation of an attachment relationship.
  • Because human infants are so vulnerable at birth, the attachment relationship is necessary for survival.
  • Many things impact the quality or health of the attachment that forms between an infant and his or her primary caregiver:
    • The caregiver’s own attachment history
    • Traumas or losses, especially if never resolved
    • Separations, especially early, long-term, or unplanned separations
    • The “goodness of fit” between the inborn temperaments of both infant and caregiver
    • The existence or absence of emotional support for the caregiver
    • The caregiver’s emotional state, including postpartum depression or anxiety
    • And many other things...
  • Did you know...?
    • Infants and children may identify more than one attachment figure, but the primary attachment has the most influence over their behaviors.
    • The quality of the attachment(s) an infant develops depends upon the nature and consistency of the child-caregiver interactions.
    • Attachment patterns form in the first 9 to 18 months of life, but we form additional attachments throughout our lives as we develop relationships with others.
    • Some infants do not form attachments and develop severe behavioral and emotional problems as a result.
    • Our attachment patterns influence how we relate to others including parents, siblings, friends, teachers, coaches, bosses, and romantic partners.
    • Infant or childhood attachment patterns eventually evolve into adult attachment patterns which influence the attachment of the next generation.
    • Four attachment patterns have been identified to exist:
      • Secure (or Autonomous for adults)
      • Anxious-avoidant (or Dismissing for adults)
      • Anxious-resistant/ambivalent (or Preoccupied for adults)
      • Disorganized-disoriented (or Unresolved for adults)
    • Unhealthy attachment patterns can heal or change with personal insight (self-reflective capacity) and a willingness to explore painful childhood memories or traumatic events with a compassionate and skilled clinician.
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