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

Why Do Dog Breeds with Genetic Disorders Suddenly Get Hot?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 24, 2017 in Animals and Us
Dog breeds like French bulldogs and Chihuahuas are skyrocketing in popularity despite their genetic problems. A new study examines why people are attracted to unhealthy pets.

Can Punctuality Ruin Love?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in In the Name of Love
There are good reasons for considering punctuality to be a virtue. Is it also a romantic virtue? There are reasons to think it is not.

Marriage as a Constraint

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on February 19, 2017 in Fighting Fear
Someone may explain a hesitancy to marry in terms of a particular partner. Often, however, there are are more general reasons.Some men and women see marriage as a constraint.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: No Stealing

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on February 19, 2017 in Life, Refracted
Taking over a loved one's time, attention, property, space or decisions without explicit permission from him or her is stealing. Boundary violations can threaten a relationship.

All Problems Are Betrayals

By Nick Luxmoore on February 17, 2017 in Young People Up Close
For young people, all problems provoke primitive anxieties of betrayal: reminders of an original betrayal they can't consciously remember but can't help feeling strongly about.

For Better or for Worse?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Talking Apes
It takes both partners working together to make marriage a heaven on earth—or a living hell.

Rethinking Love

By Paul Ekman Ph.D. on February 16, 2017 in Face It!
Is love an emotion?

Ten Ways to Heal Your Attachment Issues

By Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. on February 15, 2017 in Emotional Fitness
It’s never too late to have a close relationship with someone you love. If you had a connection before, you can have it again.

Are the Physically Attractive Also Happier?

The surprising finding was that gorgeous models who made a living from being beautiful, suffered lower well-being and greater personality maladjustment than non-models.

The Romance of Boycotting Valentine's Day

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in Your Future Self
And it’s precisely because romantic bonds are so meaningful and valuable that we’d do well to give Valentine’s Day the snub this year. Why?

What Adults Did to Me at Birth: A Baby’s Point of View

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
You civilized people don't know what you are doing to babies. Here's my story.

10 Ways to Love the One You're With

The hard work for us as parents is accepting who our child is, including the things we wish we could change and cherishing him or her for being that person.

4 Ways to Successfully Manage a Breakup

How a person manages the news that their beloved, romantic partner no longer desires a relationship with them determines how quickly and how healthfully they recover.

When You Shouldn’t Play Hard to Get

By Mairi Macleod Ph.D. on February 07, 2017 in Sexy Science
If you pretend you don't "need" anybody, you'll probably attract a commitment-phobe.

Beyond 50 Shades Darker: Debunking Popular Myths About BDSM

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on February 03, 2017 in Standard Deviations
With the upcoming release of "Fifty Shades Darker," groundbreaking new research challenges stereotypes about BDSM participants portrayed in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.

Does Your Ex Want to Get Back Together?

It may be time to cut the connection with your ex altogether. Or consider acting just like them: Remove them from the center of your life.

Terror, Love, and Brainwashing

By The Book Brigade on February 02, 2017 in The Author Speaks
Cults and brainwashing are more common than you might think. The best defense is educating children about the dangers of manipulative people and the techniques they use.

The Psychology of Profile Picture Selection

Personal profile pictures often display a glimpse of the arm of another person in them. This makes me wonder, "Why would people choose a picture with someone else in it?"

Why Relationships Scare Us

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on January 23, 2017 in Compassion Matters
Some people are afraid of being tied down, while others are terrified of being alone. Whatever our fears may be, they have roots in our past that we must understand to overcome.
K. Ramsland

Mothers of Murderers

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on January 23, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
What do mothers say when they're told that their son or daughter is a murderer?

The Women's March On Washington, Attachment Theory & My Mom

Representing 5 generations of marching women. Why we did it.

The Brain Can Work Against Abuse Victims

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in NeuroSagacity
The neurochemistry of love and attachment, particularly in the presence of abuse, can seal a victim to a grim future with a malignant partner.

12 Tips For Happy, Long-Lasting Relationships

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in Intentional Insights
Want to make love last? These 12 tips will go a long way.

Failure to Launch: Whose Problem is it Anyway?

By Dena Kouremetis on January 17, 2017 in The Unedited Offspring
Do you have a hanger-on adult child? Do you still cover car insurance or cell phone bills for your 25 year old? It's time to realize this is YOUR problem, and not theirs.

The Potential for a Future Trauma of Epic Proportions

By Stan Tatkin Psy.D. on January 14, 2017 in The Puzzle of Love
Disturbing sex tapes of the president elect could have a devastating impact on young viewers. The unverifiable status of such tapes is not reason to ignore the potential for harm.

Was Frida Kahlo a Narcissist?

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on January 13, 2017 in Life After 50
Why is there so much interest in Frida Kahlo? When she married Diego Rivera, he was a world-renowned painter and she was virtually unknown.

Why Do We Fall in Love?

We have the greatest propensity to fall in love when we perceive the other person as a way for us to undergo rapid self-expansion.

A Unified Theory of Trump

By John Montgomery Ph.D. on January 10, 2017 in The Embodied Mind
Trying to fully elucidate Donald Trump’s psychological pathologies is fast becoming a national pastime.

Be Worried About Boys, Especially Baby Boys

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on January 08, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
Parental toughness toward babies is celebrated as “not spoiling the baby” and not making boys into "sissies." A review of neurobiological research shows these are fallacies.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Touching

Touching brings our earliest and most basic connection to another person.