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 neural pathways that will sculpt enduring patterns of response to many things.

The attachment experience affects personality development, particularly a sense of security, and research shows that it influences 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 a hormone to foster the process, oxytocin.

The genius of the attachment system is that it provides the infant's first coping system; 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. Because it allows an infant to separate from the caregiver without distress and begin to explore the world around her, attachment contains within it the platform for the child's ability to survive independently.

Recent posts on Attachment

I Turned Off My Cellphone for You

By Jan Albert on June 28, 2017 in Points of Observation
What in the world could convince a 20-Something to separate from his or her cellphone? Pratt University designers look to nature and the field of Biomimicry for inspiration.

Feeling Understood—Even More Important Than Feeling Loved?

Absent the substantial chemical attraction intrinsic to the heated glow of romantic love, can you actually stay in love with someone who you feel can’t “get” who you are?

What’s Normal?

By Kathryn Seifert Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in Stop The Cycle
When it comes to childhood aggression, what is normal and what is not? When does behavior cross the line from anger to aggression?

Why Parents Make Us What We Are

Imprinted genes are critically implicated in nurture via their role in the brain and REM sleep.

First Date

By Dianne Grande Ph.D. on June 19, 2017 in In It Together
Are you missing the important signs of a match on first dates? Here are some characteristics of a healthy, happy match.

For New Dads - Keys To A Great Experience

What do new fathers need? A review of survey findings and pragmatic tips about how to avoid common mistakes and make the most of your first years as a father.

Is Your Partner Facebook Cheating?

When your partner is a friend, fan, or follower of a romantic rival, how does such divided attention impact your relationship?

Are You at Risk for an Emotional Online Affair?

Committed partners should not seek emotional fulfillment online. Telling yourself you are “just looking” online puts you at risk for becoming emotionally attached to what you see.

Getting Straight About Love and Hate

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on June 16, 2017 in Ambigamy
We say we have love, not hate, in our hearts. It's not that simple.

How to Recover From an Online Emotional Affair

Recovery from an online affair requires disabling more than an Internet connection. To rebuild relational trust, a straying partner must disable online emotional connections.

How Maternal Personality Problems Affect Children

How does parental personality dysfunction affect the future mental health of offspring? New research highlights how psychological issues carry over through generations.

Can't Get Through to Your Child?

As children develop, they naturally want to explore the world and learn for themselves. But they need to know that their parents are available, providing a safe base for them.

What's So Special About Dads

For Father's Day, we describe the science of what makes fathers unique from mothers, and the special role they play in child development.

Three Nonverbal Behaviors That May Damage Your Marriage

By Zack Carter Ph.D. on June 12, 2017 in Clear Communication
Are you potentially asking for an extramarital affair without even knowing it?

Why That Person Who Hurt You Will Never Apologize

Here's why the person who hurt and betrayed you won't get it and feels no remorse.

Are Young Women With Older Men Looking for a Daddy?

Relationships with a significant age gap almost always trigger raised eyebrows. Research helps to determine whether those raised eyebrows are justified.

Surprising Sources of Sexual Satisfaction

A satisfying sex life is more than just frequent intercourse or achieving orgasm; some surprising qualities can enhance our sexual experiences.

Four (Dysfunctional) Things We Do to Avoid Disapproval

To best understand yourself and how you relate to others, you need to consider how, as a child, you might have adapted to your parents’ only partial acceptance of you.

Why Some People Just Have Difficult Relationships

You may regard yourself as pretty easy-going, so why are some people in your life so very hard to get along with? New research shows why the difficult are so difficult.

Dad Dynamics: The Balancing Act of Modern Fatherhood

By Michael Ascher M.D. on June 05, 2017 in Unhooked
Seven things dads can do to raise emotionally healthy children.

The "Battered Voter" Syndrome

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on June 04, 2017 in BrainSnacks
The "battered spouse" syndrome has a counterpart in a "battered voter" syndrome, if people hold a dependent attachment to an "ideological package" inimical to their own interests.

This Is Your Brain Falling in Love

By Lydia Denworth on June 02, 2017 in Brain Waves
A new study let scientists get a glimpse of what happens when one individual is becoming attracted to another.

Love Is like a Butterfly

"Happiness is like a butterfly, when pursued is always beyond our grasp. But if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

5 Ways to Break Out of Frustrating Relationship Routines

If your partner is stuck in a 2-year-old's relational patterns, you may need to patiently model and encourage behavior change.

12 Ways to Get Past No

It is possible to say "No" in a way that honors your own truth, while still staying in positive contact with your child.

Toxic Friend or Just the Product of a Toxic Environment?

Sometimes non-toxic friends display toxic relationship behaviors.

Growing Up in a False Reality

Seeking artificial validation not only results in addictive, destructive behaviors, it also displaces the very experiences that would otherwise offer us authentic validation.
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What Counts As Intimacy? Not Everyone Agrees

By Tim Cole Ph.D. on May 18, 2017 in Intimate Portrait
How do you define intimacy in your relationship? Knowing your attachment style can help.

How Important Is Your Dog in Your Family and Social Life?

New data shows just how significant a part of our social and family lives our dogs have become.

Is Depression Apart from Grief or a Part of Grief?

The title above alludes to a really tricky question. And a complicated one, too. For the answer to this two-part inquiry is, well, “Yes” and “Yes.”