attachment styles

The question which stands in our mind when talking about attachment disorders is what exactly is attachment. We use the word attachment quite often in our daily life but do we even know the meaning of it. In lay man terminology attachment is essentially the feeling of the need; it is a bond for which you keep coming back for more. Attachment is being emotionally dependant on possessions, pets and humans. Attachment is an emotional dependence while addiction is psycho neurological overwhelming dependence. Putting it into simple words attachment is being so closed to someone to the point that you become vulnerable to them hence find it difficult to disconnect from them. The adoption glossary defines attachment as the “formation by a child of significant and stable emotional connections with the significant people in its life”. The first few years of child's life are considered to be the crucial years as they serve as the determinants for the future relationships. The bonding of a child with that of his caregivers in infancy affects him as an individual in his future life. This article will be defining attachment its key characteristics, attachment measurement scales for infants, children and adults, its main theories and types.

komalriazJohn Bowlby defines attachment as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings”.Bowlby was a pioneer of an attachment theory and in accordance to him the attachment patterns that a child develops with the caregivers in the initial years have a strong impact even in the later years to come. In short bonding pattern with the caregiver in the infancy determines future relationships with other people in the later life. Bowlby proposed a model known as internal working model which is the mental representation of the self and others. Initial intimate relationships with caregivers mould ones internal working model which is built upon the early childhood experiences of sensitivity and non sensitivity with that of the care taker. “The primary assumption of the attachment theory is that one forms close emotional bonds in the interest of the survival” Therefore it means that the way a child view his caregivers is the most probable way he would view other relationships in his adulthood. As for example in children it happens that when they are with the caregivers they feel free and fearless to do anything but as soon as the caregiver is absent a fear invokes in them which resists them from behaving in a normal manner. Attachment is not necessarily based on the need instead it is based on the warmth, comfort and motherhood in the children. To measure attachment style in children Ainsworth et al (1978) developed a lab based experiment known as “strange situation”. In this experiment it was observed that how the infant reacted when separated and reunited with his caregiver. On the basis of their reactions attachment measurement styles were assigned to infants. The attachment styles have been classified into four categories which are : Secure B, Insecure Avoidant A , Insecure Ambivalent C and Disorganized D. Children who are secure that is type B they greet their caregivers upon reunion with warmth such type of children have trusting relationships in the future and as adults are aware of themselves, children classified as Insecure Avoidant A ignores caregivers on reunion after separation thus form detached relationships in the future and are not very well aware of their emotional state such individuals are effectively able to block off distress as adults, children classified as Insecure Ambivalent are the one ones who gets confused on reunion they do not know whether to seek or resist contact with the caregiver on reunion such children grow up to be the attention seekers more like the people who would always take rather than giving , they also tend to exaggerate their needs and emotions, lastly the children are classified as Disorganized D these children show a very unexpected reaction on the reunion and such children are more likely to grow up into hostile and controlling adults with extremely poor sense of self. The strange situation attachment scales of children corresponds to the adult attachment scale suggesting that the attachment style which develops in the initial years of the children remains constant even in the adulthood.

Therefore the attachment patterns or styles a child develops in the initial years have a strong impact in the later years to come as well. As parents or caregivers we should take steps in fostering a secure B attachment style for a healthy living of a child in his adulthood.



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