Attachment is an interesting phenomenon. It is one of the most powerful emotions and also one of the basic necessities that can even be put in one line together with love/belonging aspect in a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Attachment theory was studied by John Bowlby and according to him it is a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. The core subject of his studying as a psychologist in the sphere of attachment were the relationships of kids and their caregivers, be it parents or else. The main point of Bowsly’s theory is that the form of attachment between caregivers and a child is something that produces a great effect on a person?s life in general and stays with him forever. Safe and loving environment provides the conditions for the formation of secured attachment where kids grow up being loved and able to love and relate.
But Mary Ainsworth has gone much further than her predecessor. She broadened the theory with her studies and her works ‘Strange Situations’ have got a lot of interesting materials.
Mary Ainsworth separated three forms of attachment:
- mainly secure attachment,
- ambivalent-insecure attachment,
- avoidant-insecure attachment.
Secured attachment is formed when caregivers and parents create such an environment where a child is not afraid of being left or somehow threatened. A kid feels safe and secure and is sure that the loved one will be back to comfort and reassure, if it is needed. Parents make all the efforts for the baby to understand that it is needed and loved. However, provided that feelings of insecurity creeps in and a child loses the trust in parents getting back, it is very likely that the feeling of insecurity will develop.
This emotion is defined as avoidant attachment and it represents in a child’s starts avoiding parents as they do not provide the comfort he craves for not are they in a hurry to give assurance. The disorder is also called anxious avoidant attachment.
Avoidant attachment disorder develops as a result of parents’ style of relating to the kid when they do not provide the required attention and assurance. It is frequently when parents are not available to comfort or they try to make a kid independent before it actually is ready for it. There are actually a lot of cases when parents themselves suffer from some form of insecure attachment and unconsciously spread the attitude to the child. The best example is when a kid is hurt and runs to the parents to be hugged and comforted. Instead of it he is either scolded or ashamed. Such situations are very frequent but in case they are repeated too often, a child gets the understanding that parents cannot be relied on any more and starts to avoid them. This can happen after a long period of separation and with strangers as well.
The main idea of both the theories is that this childhood experience a person tends to carry later into the adult life.
Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver studied adult relationships in this respect and they focused on romantic relationships. Their conclusion was that people with avoidant attachment have troubles in forming intimate relationships. Such people find it hard to create any bonding as the idea of being dependant on others is not much to their liking and very frequently they actually do not need close relationship. They also may not have any regrets about breaking relationships and be prone to casual sex. It is not characteristic for people with avoidant attachment to show or share either feelings or thoughts to other people.
All in all, it may not seem a great problem in childhood but it can become one in adulthood.