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

Anomic Homicide

How can a profound disconnection from others foster the rationale for homicide? And what can we do to change this?

Just Being Near You Is Rewarding for Dogs

A new study suggests that dogs find merely being near humans to be rewarding even without any social interactions.

Revisiting Harry Harlow’s Legacy: Cruelty Towards Monkeys

Iconic figures in psychology need to be more critically scrutinized when their research violates basic principles of ethics and morality. Harry Harlow is put under the spotlight.

Why Limit Yourself?

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
Sometimes what seems like a self-esteem problem turns out to be our intuition telling us we're capable of more.

Which Emotions Do We See in Dogs and Cats?

New data looks at the basic and complex emotions that pet owners observe in their own dogs and cats.
Pierre Auguste Cot/Wikimedia Commons

Breaking Out of the Make-Up-Break-Up Cycle

Are you in a toxic romantic cycle of constantly breaking up, then making up? This might help!

Homesickness: A Sign of Weakness or Strength?

Once considered beneficial, attachment to home is now viewed as dysfunctional. Is love of home a disorder? Or is it a foundation for healthy relationships?

Targeted Parents and Adult Alienated Children

Reconnecting is not the same as restoring the relationship.

Dealing With Your Partner’s Explosive Anger

By Marty Babits on July 11, 2016 in The Middle Ground
Explosive anger creates turmoil and confusion. Here are four tips designed to help you sort through the negative and move towards healing and resilience.

The Gaslighted Child

By Peg Streep on July 07, 2016 in Tech Support
Our culture is resistant to the idea that some mothers actively undermine their children. That resistance doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Why Getting a New Handbag Makes Me Crazy

I finally broke down and bought a new handbag. Each time I look for something in it, it is like learning to walk all over again.

The Origins of Our Emotional Life: Our Earliest Feelings

Our earliest nine inborn feelings—“primary affects”—are key to understanding human development and emotional life. What are they? How do they work?

How to Talk About the Things You Don't Want to Talk About

You can learn to talk about difficult subjects with your partner. Doing so is vital to your relationship.

Mending the Eating Disorder Fence: Neither This nor That

Attachment issues in children and adults are precursors or precipitating factors in the development of eating disorders. What does this mean?

Do Partners Owe Each Other Total Honesty and Openness?

The desire to share your emotions, experiences, and private thoughts is a normal part of a thriving and healthy relationship.

Why Time-Outs Need a Time Out

In using time-outs parents unintentionally convey that they are unable to contain or tolerate their own feelings.

Can Your Dog Help You Get Dates?

Your reaction to your own dog and your date's dog may determine how attractive you appear to a potential partner.
J. Borowksi

Secrets of Psycho

John Borowski has a knack for finding old files of serial killers. His latest publication offers the files of Ed Gein, the "Psycho" Killer.

Three Key Father Parenting Jobs, Analytically Speaking

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on June 21, 2016 in Full Living
Psychoanalytic theory has a lot to say about the role of mothers in early infant psychological development. Less familiar is the roles fathers play in their childrens' developement

6 Myths About Pleasing a Woman in Bed

It’s difficult to please a woman if she doesn't reveal her pleasure secrets. Myths about what she turns her on and what turns her off create untold anxiety. Here's the truth:

Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love

For these kids, the human/dog bond really does lead to hope and healing.

Saying Goodbye to Barack and Michelle

By Stan Tatkin Psy.D. on June 17, 2016 in The Puzzle of Love
A psychobiological analysis of an excerpt from an interview with Barack and Michelle Obama suggests the secure-functioning nature of their relationship.

Russian Adoption Laws Leave Children Warehoused and Unwanted

Restrictive adoption laws raise mental health concerns for Russian orphans.

Otherfathering and Men in Polyamorous Families

Polyaffectivity offers men a way to connect with each other and stay connected with kids, even if no longer having sex with the kids' mother. Otherfathering provides connections.

4 Steps to a Better Relationship

Many of the ways act in our relationships are echoes of the past. How can we break our old patterns and become the person we want to be?

Why Babies Need Dads Too

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on June 12, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
The brain is shaped by early experience, specifically, the mothering (nurturing responsive care) we receive from mothers and fathers.

Polyamorous Relationships and Their Obstacles

Two of the main challenges in poly relationships are exactly those ideals that these groups strive toward: equality and feeling joy knowing your beloved has sex with someone else

Where Our Relationship Patterns Come From

The way we experienced relationships in childhood creates an “internal working model” for how we view relationships throughout our lives.

7 Signs That You've Found The One

How do you know if what you’re feeling is love—or something else?