Attachment Styles, pt 2

This week, we are addressing attachment styles and how they play a role in adulthood. If you missed the blog right before this one introducing attachment styles you may want to visit that so that you can better understand the series.

There are four different types of attachment styles, and we find that these styles are formed in childhood and are heavily connected to our interaction with our caregivers.

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment is the result of feeling secure with your caregivers from childhood and being able to ask for reassurance or validation without punishment.

Ultimately, you felt safe, understood, comforted, and valued during your early interactions.

Your caregivers were probably emotionally available and aware of their own emotions and behaviors.

“Hence, children model (imitate) secure attachment as well as receive it from their caregivers,” Peoples adds. [1]

Secure attachment is the goal and certainly provides fewer challenges in adulthood. If you have a secure attachment as you see above you probably had a safe environment and at least one caregiver demonstrated nurturing loving care towards you when you could not car for yourself. Those with secure attachments are better equipped in adulthood as it pertains to trauma. This is true because they experienced a safe environment from a very early age, particularly as the brain continue to grow. Secure attachment, obviously, is the goal.

It would be reasonable to assume that a person would secure attachment could demonstrate any of the following behaviors and or coping mechanisms.

Signs of a secure attachment style include: [1]

  • ability to regulate your emotions
  • ability to others
  • ability to communicate effectively
  • ability to seek emotional support
  • ability to be alone
  • ability to maintain close relationships
  • ability to self-reflect in partnerships
  • ability to manage conflict well
  • ability to understand self value.
  • ability to be emotionally available

Avoidant Attachment Style

“[It’s] defined by failures to build long-term relationships with others due to an inability to engage in physical and emotional intimacy,” says Peoples. [1]

  • avoid emotional or physical intimacy
  • avoid asking for help independence
  • avoid expressing emotions
  • avoids others

These are just a few behaviors demonstrated when we have an anxious attachment. This attachment style is usually formed when basic needs aren’t met by caregivers. Those with anxious attachments were made to feel like they were a burden and therefore become supremely independent, incredibly distrusting of others, and remarkably ill prepared for relationships. This causes issues in adulthood and ultimately any number of mental health issues as well as the perpetuation of generational trauma. It is important for us to recognize this so that we can heal and stop trauma in its tracks.

Anxious Attachment Style

“These children have difficulty understanding their caregivers and have no security for what to expect from them moving forward. [They’re] often confused within their parental relationships and feel unstable,” says Peoples.

“Children with this attachment style experience very high distress when their caregivers leave. Sometimes, the parents will be supportive and responsive to the child’s needs while at other times, they will not be attuned to their children,” [1]

Different from avoidant attachment, these children are left not knowing whether their caregiver will be there. Caregivers are inconsistent in the care of the child, creating this anxious attachment that plays out on the anxiety spectrum.

Adults with this attachment style may find:

  • A tendency to cling to people
  • A tendency to highly sensitive to criticism (real or perceived)
  • A tendency to seek and obtain approval from others.
  • A tendency to demonstrate jealousy
  • A tendency to stay busy and avoid solitude
  • A tendency towards low self esteem and unworthiness
  • A tendency to have a paralyzing fear of rejection and abandonment

Disorganized Attachment

The most common causes of a disorganized attachment style are childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Fear of their parents (their sense of safety) is also present.

Children with this attachment style may seem confused.

“Caregivers are inconsistent and are often seen as sources of comfort and fear by their children, which leads to their disorganized behaviors,” explains Peoples. [1]

These children not only have unmet needs, but their caregivers are more than neglectful, they are not safe for the child. This usually plays out in forms of abuse.

Adults with this style may find:

  • demonstrates fear of rejection
  • demonstrates an inability to regulate emotions
  • demonstrates contradictory behaviors
  • demonstrates high levels of anxiety
  • demonstrates difficulty trusting others
  • demonstrates signs of both avoidant and anxious attachment styles [1]

This attachment style is the most linked to PTSD and its friends. Next on the blog, we will bring resources to identify and treat the ills of trauma that created this attachment style. Follow the blog so you don’t miss this content, because we will never stop fighting for you!

There are interviews with therapist that addresses most of these issues, you can find those here.

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