All About Attachment

The emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver is the means by which the helpless infant gets primary needs met. It then becomes the engine of subsequent social, emotional, and cognitive development. The early experience of the infant stimulates growth of the brain and shapes emerging mental processes. It establishes in the infant's brain the neural pathways that will sculpt what are likely to be lifelong patterns of response to many things.

The attachment experience affects personality development and the ability to form stable relationships throughout life. Neuroscientists believe that attachment is such a primal need that there are networks of neurons in the brain dedicated to setting it in motion, and the process of forming lasting bonds is powered in part by the hormone oxytocin.

The genius of the attachment system is that it provides the infant's first coping system, the one that is a foundation for all the others; it sets up in the infant's mind a mental representation of the caregiver, one that is wholly portable and can be summoned up as a comforting mental presence in difficult moments. Attachment contains within it the platform for the child's ability to ultimately separate from the caregiver and to survive independently.

Recent posts on Attachment

By Nogas1974 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Biology Determines Every Thought, Feeling, and Behavior

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on October 20, 2016 in Cui Bono
Psychologists say behavior results from the interaction of biology and environment, yet argue about their relative importance. Read why the importance of biology is always 100%.

Reflections on Veteran Suicide, Veteran Resilience and Tribe

Trauma may not be the that thing catalyzes despair but rather the combination of trauma with gaping attachment wounds that service members feel when they separate from their tribe.

If You Meet a Shark in the Dating Pool, Swim Away!

Beware that "soulmate" feelings may be echoes of former trauma that may lead us into a relationship that will morph into the nightmare of the abusive situation.

Restoring Family Connections

Helping parents and children restore their family connections

Staying in Touch With Real Babies: Correcting the AAP

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on October 09, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
The AAP's recommendations for infant sleep deal a major blow to the parent-infant dyad. One mom shows how sleep training violates the most sacred of bonds.
Photo: iStock

The Commitment-Phobe

Some people are phobic of commitment. It may have to do with attachment. Here's how.

Belonging and Loneliness

By Saul Levine M.D. on October 08, 2016 in Our Emotional Footprint
Belonging is when we feel a part of a community where we are liked and appreciated. Loneliness is its opposite when we feel unsupported and saddened. Both affect mood and health.

Finding Happiness in a Burger Joint

Can team bonding lead to better business?

How Cocaine-Rush Feelings Are Stimulated on "The Bachelor"

Here are five examples of ways in which the scripting of reality TV shows enhances “cocaine-rush” feelings in new relationships.
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Getting Unstuck

By Brad E Sachs Ph.D. on October 06, 2016 in Emptying The Nest
Which is more important to your young adult child—making you proud or keeping you worried? You and your child might be surprised by the answer.


By Duana C. Welch Ph.D. on October 04, 2016 in Love Proof
Knowing where your trust comes from can help you direct where it's going.

Unrequited Love: Why We Cling

By Wendy Paris on October 04, 2016 in Splitopia
Intermittent reward keeps us attached, says psychotherapist and author Jeanne Safer. We need to credit our own feelings of dissatisfaction and let go of "relentless hope."

Living With Less Fear and More Happiness

Any time happiness is based on a condition that must be fulfilled and maintained, you will suffer.

When Anxious, Our Most Basic Strategy Is to Run

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on October 03, 2016 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Our most basic way of dealing with our fears and anxieties is to run away from them. But, if we always run away, we severely limit our life and our relationships.

7 Reasons You Might Stay Friends With Your Ex

You broke up with your partner. Does that mean your relationship should end?

What Is Lasting Love?

Can we learn to appreciate our romantic partner without the sparks and fireworks? Clearly, some people manage to. What is their secret?

How to Bounce Back From Unrequited Love

Why do we love people who do not love us back? What can we do about unreciprocated feelings? Research has the answers.

8 Common Effects of Narcissistic Parenting

By Craig Malkin Ph.D. on September 30, 2016 in Romance Redux
Being raised by a narcissistic parent can have profound and lasting effects.

What Would a Talking Mirror Say to You?

By Donna Barstow on September 29, 2016 in Ink Blots Cartoons
What does your reflection tell you about who you are? Should you trust it?

Respect Differences: Learn From the Boy Who Lived With Seals

By clinging to what divides us from others, we only hurt ourselves.

Fight or Grow

Moments of hurt or anger with your partner can become opportunities to heal, grow, and develop intimacy.

No, You Cannot Get Attached to Porn

By David J Ley Ph.D. on September 28, 2016 in Women Who Stray
Blaming porn-related personal and relationship problems on addiction disturbance is the worst form of pseudoscience - it's also potentially iatrogenic.

Divorce Pitfalls to Avoid, Part One

Divorce imposes challenges, reshuffling relationships between child and parents. Avoiding these divorce pitfalls will enhance your relationships for your child beyond the family.

This Is the Real Reason We're So Attached to Our Phones

Do you ever wonder if you’re too dependent on your cell phone? New research suggests how attachment style affects our cell phone behavior.

The Mothers of Mankind

Proposed self-domestication of our species raises the issue of who the domesticators were. Insights of the imprinted brain theory argue they were ancestral mothers.

Human Intimacy

Few human endeavors are as rewarding and as frightening as acts of intimacy.

The One Thing We All Should Do to Become Better Parents

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Compassion Matters
Attachment research shows us that the very best thing we can do for our kids, whether they’re already born or arriving in the future, is to make sense of our own story.

What Is Required for a Happy Life

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on September 12, 2016 in Fighting Fear
A discussion of some of the important ingredient in living a happy life

Helping Children Through Transitions

By Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Between Cultures
7 ways parents can help children navigate the challenges and rewards of mobility.

The Experimental Parent

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 09, 2016 in How To Do Life
The Eminents Interview: T. Berry Brazelton