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Attachment theory
is based on the belief that humans and other animals are biologically wired to
connect with others
and that the attachment patterns established in early childhood tend to
persist throughout life.
In this way early bonds with a parent or caregiver sets the tone in pattern for
how we pursue relationships with others
and, more importantly, how we see the world in our place
in it. The theory grew out of the initial workup psychiatrist John Bowlby,
who worked with orphaned and homeless children after world war two.
He observed the profound and persistent effects
the absence of a caring maternal figure on these children
and the theory grew from here in later years.
Psychologist Mary Ainsworth established the idea of a secure base
or the concept that
effective parenting gives the child a sense of freedom and safety to explore
the world around them,
knowing that they have the backup of a secure and safe place.
This concept is a primary tenet of the first
attachment pattern known as secure attachment. Ideally,
with consistent and attentive care from one or more parents,
the child develops a sense of safety and is able to respond well
to their parent. She can also interact well with a stranger
but clearly prefers her caregiver.
When caregiving is
overly protective and discouraging of risk taking or independence the
second type of attachment or
anxious attachment style, may take hold. In this instance
the child may be very clingy or needy
and seeks ongoing reassurances. When parents are disengaged, deeply
self-absorbed, or consistently distracted a child may develop
what is known as an avoidant attachment style,
showing indifference to caregivers and others
and a general reticence to connect with anyone.
If a parent is very inconsistent in response
sometimes attentive, sometimes dismissive,
sometimes caring, sometimes indifferent or neglectful,
an ambivalent attachment style can take root.
The caregiver is not seen as a secure base.
The care and attention at the parent may be sought fiercely and then rejected.
Distress, ambivalence, anger, and neediness become familiar emotions.
If a caregiver has episodes of abusiveness or frightening or dangerous behavior,
a disorganized attachment style occurs.
The child is fearful, uncertain, and disoriented in the presence
the caregiver. A general estimate
is that approximately 65 percent of people could be considered securely
with the remaining 35 percent in one of the above
described insecurely attached categories.
It's important to understand that this theory should not be used
to be overly critical of parenting styles.
Life events such as death in the family, divorce,
major illness, financial insecurity, threat of crime,
as well as the parents own attachment style can clearly play important
roles in the development of
a child and their relationship to the world.
The theory posits that we take our attachment style with us
into adulthood. Do we have a generally positive view of ourselves,
see the world as a safe place and feel comfortable with intimacy of friends
and partners? Do we feel needy, always seeking reassurance is an approval with
less positive use ourselves in the world
Do we feel no need for connection and think we are better off alone?
Seeing others with contempt and believing we can only rely on ourselves,
or do we feel very ambivalent about others in relationships,
sometimes seeking them intensely in adamantly,
and other times rejecting them completely viewing others with mistrust,
or idealizing them and seeing ourselves as unworthy?
Of course these categories are not rigid nor absolute,
they exist on a continuum and we may certainly experience aspects of all of
them at various times
in life as circumstances change.
But having a general awareness of our attachment tendencies
as well as those have others in our lives can be very helpful.
In attachment informed psychotherapy
the therapist works with the patient to identify and explore these tendencies
in a completely non-judgmental way.
As humans we are wired to connect and to seek healthy social engagement.
This is good news. Very often the therapist's job is simply to help the
patient clear the debris that is
impeding them from their natural and innate
pursuit of health and well-being.
Finally, it is important to remember that therapist-patient relationship
is ideally a strong and meaningful one,
although it is obviously not a typical
relationship that the patient has out in the real world,
it is still a real relationship and the great advantage here
is that it is a safe and expected
environment in which complicated and painful questions
about how and why we are the way we are can be explored
with support, and we can also ask the even more important question
how might it be different and how might
be better?


Attachment Theory Explains Relationship Patterns

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Precious Annie Liao 2014 年 5 月 2 日 に公開
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