1. SECURELY ATTACHED ADULTS
Secure healthy attachment with parents who are consistent, attuned, present, and safe, offers the holding environment that allows for healthy relating and bonding. Fortunately, we can re-access the original, innate healthy attachment system later in life.
When we come to understand our early attachment styles in a healthy environment today, the original imprints that are the foundation of our self -protective ego structure can be healed so that we can have more contact with our intrinsic core intactness and enjoy fulfilling relationships embodying our Authentic Self.
SAFE, SECURELY ATTACHED ADULTS
THE GOAL of this work is to return to our inherent secure attachment as adults, even though we may have had difficult attachment disruptions as a child. We will be exploring how to learn secure attachment through experiencing and creating healthy relationships and drawing on the unlimited compassion and essential states available in the universal field. We can heal bio-psychologically, and also from expanding into spiritual dimensions.
2. AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT
Unavailability, hostility, and lack of fulfillment from caregivers in the ‘Avoidant’ attachment model can result in a feeling that relationship and intimacy are so difficult that we tend to stay on the sidelines…perhaps a major ‘disconnection’ from relationships is a source of comfort in life. Parents may have been distant emotionally, and rejecting and insensitive to child’s needs.
We need to create enough safety and presence for an avoidant person to risk reaching out again in adult relationships after the intolerable frustration, hurt, and unavailability they experienced as children. What happens when the other person they meet has the capacity to be present and safe enough for potential bonding to occur? We must honor that to not feel, and to dismiss others, was the strategy that helped them survive childhood.
Avoidant attached adults avoid and move away from true intimacy and relationships
Minimizes importance of relationships in life
Lives on their own, which is a mental adaption versus a conscious choice of the infant
Can have dissociative symptoms. May disappear or disconnect without realizing it
Stay busy and may believe in hard work and extreme independence
As a child, may have experienced a world emotionally isolated from parents
Reduces expectations of others
Minimizes proximity seeking
Distances self from others and self, may dominate his or her experience and may be unaware of disconnection
Engages in dry, logical, analytic thinking; lack of sensory or intuitive component
May have factual memory of an event in the past, but no felt sense
See self as loner
Often dismisses others, and over-focus on self
Difficulty in experiencing and expressing emotions or needs
Person may incorrectly determine that they are happiest alone, and deny their need for others
Have given up on humans, and relate to animals, nature, spirit helpers, etc. for support
May feel alien, not belonging, outcast, and not seen
May have a lot of energy stuck in their head, without realizing it
Easy to be brilliant cognitively, but difficult to experience emotions
Fear risk, wanting or belonging, as it feels overwhelmingly vulnerable
Not available in relationships
Deny their own needs and resent their partner having or expressing needs, and harshly judge and label their partner weak for having needs. Emotion is a foreign language
Not showing up or present in the relationship, re-enacting the way the parent may have been with them
Difficulty with contact – visual or touch
AVOIDANT ATTACHED ADULTS
May have many friends and engage on a somewhat superficial level, and most issues may not arise until they enter a deep partner relationship where deeper needs may begin to surface and deeper transference issues get triggered.
3. AMBIVALENT/ANXIOUS PREOCCUPIED ATTACHMENT
The here today, gone tomorrow ‘anxious’ type of bonding leads to continual frustration and insecurity in relating, that may manifest as feeling incapable of ever being truly loved or lovable enough, and an over-focus on the “other” and an under-focus on the self.
We need to create enough consistent and reliable contact for an ambivalent person to relax the over-focus on others and to find and connect with themselves. They avoid distance with others, and fear abandonment. They seek closeness, but struggle with the fear of losing it. They often underestimate themselves and their real capacities. This comes from the parenting style they received of an “on again/off again“ connection, and unreliable love. Their was no consistency. They may feel unloved and/or unlovable, due to the dynamics of the past, and project the unavailability and lack of fulfillment on current partners. Sometimes in adult relationships, the person reverses the pattern and becomes the unavailable one.
ANXIOUS/AMBIVALENT ATTACHED ADULTS
Feel that conspicuous insecurity has been the most reliable means for gaining the attention of unreliable others. This is hard to give up…and may support a strategy and an identity. Because of the recurring threat of abandonment, anxious disruption may cause a person to be to willing to please, and too fearful to assert their own needs – if they even have an awareness of what those needs are.
4. DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT
When a parent is terrifying, we may become so frightened and confused in relating, that ‘Disorganized’ attachment can result. This describes a conflict between two major biological drives that occurs when a child looks for a safe attachment figure, and finds instead a need to protect one’s self through the survival instincts to dis-attach.
Attachment thrives with safety, and dis-attachment occurs with fear. The need to distance in order to survive counters the need to attach for nurturing care-giving. Child cannot use parent to soothe, as parent is the source of fear
The primary Attachment System is designed around safety for the child. When the child experiences physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, he or she develops dis-attachment
Dual dilemma: The child experiences terror of the attachment figure AND the loss of the safe haven needed for healthy attachment with minimal possibility of fight or flight to reduce threat
Child remains stuck between Approach and Avoidance and can become frozen into trancelike stillness that can move toward clinical dissociation
Child may develop social difficulties, attention deficits, and lack of coherent mind. They may become aggressive with others, or exhibit controlling-style, due to danger experienced with out–of-control, scary parents
Paradoxical messages from caregivers lead to overwhelming feelings most of the time, and an inability to solve problems
May use present tense to describe the past, incomplete sentences, prolonged pauses in speech, and cognitive disruption. They have the greatest risk of psychiatric disorders
Two major drives are in conflict: the innate drive to attach, and the instinctual drive to survive
May feel like a failure in relationships, due to the overwhelming and dissociative reactions that arise due to the intensity of the past relational trauma
Inner confusion about when connection is safe and when there is a valid need to run or fight
Cannot tolerate ambiguity. Lack of clarity can create inner turmoil and an anger or panic response
Inner chaos from exposure to unsafe and crazy-making situations in the home
They may feel disoriented or fragmented in the relationship because parents had a disorganizing effect on the person’s attachment system
They may have physical and emotional numbness
Due to the need to dissociate, persons with disorganized attachment often do not live in their bodies, and then have trouble taking good care of them. If they experience a great deal of fear when they feel exiled, they may take extreme measures to feel them again, in the form of cutting, self-mutilation, or other harmful self–inflicted actions
Fear of going crazy; being exposed to crazy-making situations does not make one crazy
Memory difficulties: The developing hippocampus is temporarily disrupted by trauma, so that implicit nonverbal memory is disorganized. Also, later experience that was traumatic may remain without context, in a timeless and wordless way. In this state, the trauma patient is destined to relive events in a flashback, where all the senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, or being touched or harmed during the past the event, is experienced as to be actually happening again
Not knowing who or when to trust
Confusion about evaluating danger signals, because they have needed to override their survival instincts
Chronic need to fight or flee in relationships
Sense of safety severely lacking
Partner feels abandoned, due to the dissociative reactions and the disorganized adult’s difficulties in maintaining presence
Partners may become afraid of the sudden shifts in states of consciousness, and the extreme emotions or rage or panic that sometimes accompany them, alternating with eerie dissociative behavior
Night terrors or flashbacks may cause the disorganized adult to act out, and dissociation may limit their awareness of impact it is having on them and their relationship
N.V.C. – Non Violent Communication
TRANS-GENERATIONAL ATTACHMENT STYLES
Patterns of attachment disruption are easily transferred through the generations. When we heal our own wounds, we break this unfortunate chain of behavior. By taking responsibility to heal ourselves, we can enjoy healthier adult relationships, while also healing our relationships with our parents and our children. It is not about “them changing,” but more about how we want to be in our relationships. The choices we make will greatly influence our connections with partners, family, at work, and with friends.
You have just read the four Attachment Styles. You may have a combination model that you are working with. They were honestly earned and developed as a way of surviving and belonging to our original family systems. The intention is to move into Safe Secure Attachment. C.A.P.S. is the antedote (consistency, attunement, presence, and safety). We can give that to ourselves as adults, and move out of our attachment woundings.
There is a lot of different exercises, practices, and processes to develop Safe Secure Attachment which is innate within every human being. All of the information above, and my training, came from Dianne Poole Heller, who has developed wonderful healing for early attachment patterns and for re-patterning.
Diane Poole Heller
Attachment in Psychotherapy by David J.Wallin
The Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel
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