All About Attachment

The emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver, usually a parent, is the means by which the helpless infant gets his 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

How You Can Stop the Next Terrorist

Like most of the world, I felt fearful, angry and initially, powerless, as the news of the terrorism in Paris emerged. I asked myself, what can I do to stop terrorism? What can one person do to stop the madness? The answer came - plenty.

Beware the Charming Narcissist

Puzzled about a relationship that started well, captured your heart but now seems to be going nowhere? Maybe you are involved with a charming narcissist.

Releasing the Barriers to Love: An Interview with Tara Brach

By Mark Matousek on November 24, 2015 Ethical Wisdom
What is the role of radical acceptance in intimate relationships? Why is spaciousness necessary for deep connection? Is it possible to be committed without attachment? How can we set our beloved free without losing trust?

Will Your Child Be Part of the Collateral Damage of Divorce?

Rather than looking at the negative consequences of divorce as fixed, we need to examine the origins of the problem – the so-called pathogenesis – to recognize that these consequences are the results of symptoms acquired over the course of a child’s lifetime.

In Defense of the Bagel

Americans have an endless obsession with diets and eating or not eating foods in an effort to lose weight, bloat or fat. Often the food restrictions or diet imposed serve to induce bingeing at some point. The gluten-free environment has left the friendly bagel maligned or at least misrepresented.

The Unparented Child

Wrong child/wrong parent: how to heal a mismatch and champion your neglected inner child

The Social Side of Touch

By Lydia Denworth on November 19, 2015 Brain Waves
What's in a mother's caress? A set of specialized nerve fibers may help to explain why holding babies builds attachment.

Should We Let Kids Study What Interests Them?

By Garth Sundem on November 17, 2015 Brain Trust
Does a child's intrinsic motivation increase math scores? Of course it does! That is, unless you look at the science.

The Reason You Are Needy

By Marcia Reynolds Psy.D. on November 14, 2015 Wander Woman
The reason you are needy is because social needs fuel your drive to connect with others and succeed. This post will teach you how to identify your needs so you can feed them instead of reacting negatively when they aren't met.

How My Daughter with RAD Dealt with Death

By Tina Traster on November 13, 2015 Against All Odds
A mother of a RAD child witnesses her child's reaction to death

Resilient Family Outcomes Through Polyaffectivity

The second in a series of three on resilience, this blog looks at how polyamorous families de-emphasize sexuality and focus instead on polyaffectivity -- the non-sexual connections among family members -- to sustain connections over time. Useful for blended monogamous families, the poly ability to flex with changing circumstances is key to the resilience of polyaffectivity

The Essential Power Of Relationship

Perhaps the most important psychological discovery in years, Porges' research explains how the benevolent non-judgmental signals of the caregiver can calm the child. If consistent enough, calming relatedness is internalized, allowing us humans to engage in cooperation, reproduction, and - indeed - civilization.

Do You Defend Your Partner’s Defenses? Here's Why You Should

We all need our psychological defenses. They protect us from experiencing an otherwise disturbing anxiety. Or an ancient sense of inferiority, or shame that may go all the way back to childhood—and that we’ve never managed to fully resolve. So when we talk about getting our buttons pushed, it’s about someone’s (however accidentally) triggering these uncomfortable feelings.

How You Open Is How You Close

By Marty Babits on November 10, 2015 The Middle Ground
Three questions and three tips to jumpstart your talks.

The Human Seeking Perfection

One cannot be truly human alone. Other humans are required

My Visit to an Extreme Hoarder

By Barry Yourgrau on November 07, 2015 Mess
I was, at last, in hoarding Valhalla: ghastly, derelict, oppressive, aesthetically astounding, most piles and surfaces grayed with dust.,

Dissociation and Psychosis

Psychosis, a state of implicit trauma, is characterized by the symptom of dissociation from reality by the psychotic individual. This withdrawal involves derealization, or the sense that the world is not real, and depersonalization, or a sense that the self is not real. Using the Eriksonian paradigm for therapeutic treatment of schizophrenics may be a promising.

The Anxieties of Dating

By Stan Tatkin Psy.D. on November 05, 2015 The Puzzle of Love
Research shows that an insecure attachment style can make people more likely to stalk a date, and suggests how to help young people avoid getting snared in an unproductive cycle.

Sensory Sensitivity Can Strain Parent-Child Relations

Parent awareness alleviates stress, and helps improve relationships.

When a Loved One is Suffering

What can we do if someone we care about is suffering?

How Master Manipulators View Adult Relationships

Habitually manipulative people are likely to have an anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant, or disorganized attachment style.

What is Attachment Anxiety?

The attachment system plays an important role in emotion regulation allowing individuals to deal with distressing events.

4 Things an Empath Never Says (and You Shouldn't Either)

By Peg Streep on November 02, 2015 Tech Support
Sympathy and empathy are often used interchangeably but the truth is that they are very different processes on both a neurological and social level. And the difference matters.

The Importance of Accepting Painful Emotions:

Getting good with feeling bad goes a long way in the recovery from an eating disorder. Patients often have pre-existing anxiety and/or depression. But, disengagement from emotions is different from an anxious or depressed mood. Feelings matter before, during and after recovery. Emotional awareness and expression in relationships are key in recovery and in bonding.

Empathy and the Mind-Body Connection

By Marty Babits on October 27, 2015 The Middle Ground
The double arrow of empathy

Why Can’t I Get Over My Ex?

An ex can occupy our thoughts and heart for days, months, or even years after a break-up. When you can’t seem to get over an ex, more accurately remembering how our relationship really was can help us move on.

Finding Hope and Security in Relationships

Scientific research demonstrates that you can learn to become a “secure base” for others in order to help them develop confidence and hope for the future. You also can learn how to pick people who can provide a secure base to you and give you the sensitivity and support that you deserve in creating a life full of hope and promise.

How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Parenting

Attachment research has shown that our attachment style with our own parents is the biggest predictor of the attachment style we’ll have with our child. As we become familiar with our attachment styles, we can have insight into many of your relationships, past and present. We can even change how we parent.

Discovering Who I Am

Developing a coherent, personal identity is a basic human need. The establishment of our identity is an integral outgrowth of our relationships with important people in our lives.

When Your College Freshman Gets Homesick

That first step in the last stage of adolescence, Trial Independence (18-13), moving out from home for job or college, can be harder to take than the young person anticipated. The separation feels hard because the familiarity and comforts of home are sincerely missed.