When we talk about attachment styles, one thing which is important to understand is the meaning of attachment. In common language, we understand that the word attachment reflects a close feeling or bonding a person develops with any attachment figure. This attachment object can be anything ranging from any possession or a pet animal to any human figure. When you get attached to something it means that you want to keep that thing with you or we can say, you need that and become dependent on that object. It is metaphorically explained as the addiction is physical, psychological and neurological dependence. In a similar way, attachment ought to be an emotional dependence in which person gets warmly involved. It gets to the level that in the absence of that person you feel empty. Therefore, it gets very difficult for you to get apart.
Formally attachment is defined as an emotional association a child develops with his/ her loved ones. The early years of infant’s life are very important in developing attachment which can reflect individual’s later life emotional experiences in relationships.
Mehwish Mursaleen is MPhil in Clinical Psychology and pursuing her PhD in similar field from Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Karachi. She has provided mental health services to people having different psychological problems coming from different age groups and backgrounds. Her research work is based on IQ, Emotional Intelligence, Academic achievement and Aggression in adolescents. She also has published case studies on CBT for depression and panic disorder. Her interests are in the areas of counselling, psychotherapy, and psychological assessment.
Editor: Mr. Wakeel Murad
Theoretic background of attachment styles
Just like animals have a tendency to seek proximity with their caregiver, theorists studied evolutionary behaviors of a human. Bowlby, J was the first theorists who proposed attachment theory. His theory emphasized the early development of attachment in an infant with his or her caregiver which is likely to impact one’s relationships in later life. The level of trust it develops during childhood is the predictor of future relationship building. According to the Bowlby, in order to develop healthy attachment in later life, at least, one early attachment with a caregiver is essential. Bowlby studied the short-term and long-term nature of human relationships and hence developed a model which deliberates upon how individuals react to the hurt, departure, and danger within the relationship with another person.
A father or mother can be a very good attachment figure if they provide proper care and emotional support to a child in very first few years of life. The trust develops through responsiveness and attention a child receives from his/ her parents. If a sense of security is developed in these crucial years of life then the child feels a sense that at least someone would be there if he/ she faces any threat or hurt. Even at any point of time, a parent is vulnerable to some form of stress and then may not provide such kind of support needed by the child, but an effective parent would be compensating such short disruptions in caregiving through at other times. They timely review and repair any damage in their caregiving. Similarly, if a parent is unavailable or insensitive during this crucial time period, a child can’t recover this gap in the relationship. In such situations, the child is needed to put efforts in creating a balance in their later relationships. This pattern of attachment is hence predictable through the early experiences of the child.