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

7 Ways the Insecure Try to Seem Important

Some people will go through extreme and perhaps ridiculous efforts to seem important. These seven behaviors may be covering up their feelings of loneliness and inferiority.

Walking in Natural Environments Nourishes Parent-Child Bonds

By Christopher Bergland on November 18, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Spending time together in nature increases family cohesion, according to a new study.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child?

By Asa Don Brown Ph.D. on November 16, 2017 in Towards Recovery
Spanking a child is about the parent not the child. The child will learn more from positive correction than physical manipulation.

Are Dogs Insanely Friendly Because of Their Genetics?

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC on November 16, 2017 in Canine Corner
A genetic abnormality which causes extreme friendliness in people also causes the friendliness we observe in dogs.

How to Neutralize Your Partner’s Defenses

By Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. on November 15, 2017 in Evolution of the Self
Unlike courtship, once couples enter into a presumably lasting commitment, they both—however unconsciously—focus more on what they never really liked about each other.

How Are We Connected to Our Partner?

Similar attachment styles make for better marriages. Different attachment styles cab cause major problems.

Insecurity May Enhance Your Ability to Detect Dishonesty

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on November 09, 2017 in Why Bad Looks Good
Insecurity is related to the ability to detect dishonesty. Your suspicions about your partner´s dishonesty may reveal the honest truth about you.

Starved for Affection: How Childhood Experiences Define Love

By Peg Streep on November 07, 2017 in Tech Support
The culture tells us to stop whining about childhood and to "move on." But we'll keep repeating the patterns of the past if we can't see them.

Learn How to Argue and “Take the Hit"

By Hal Shorey Ph.D. on November 06, 2017 in The Freedom to Change
It doesn’t take bravery to run away from an argument or to lash out and counterattack. So, learn to fight with honor, address the real issues, and have conflict be productive.

The Life of the Alienated Parent

Coping with the emotional trauma created by the experience of attachment-based parental alienation.

How Do We Move Forward After Losing the People We Love?

By Caren Osten Gerszberg on November 03, 2017 in The Right Balance
Under the weight of grief, self-compassion and sharing stories may allow some light to shine in.

When Food Is Food, When Sex Is Sex

Symptoms and behaviors that attempt to deal with emotions and replace relationships abound.

Should We Prepare Ourselves for Straying?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on October 31, 2017 in In the Name of Love
In order to reduce the pain of a potential romantic rejection, some people cultivate back-up romantic options. How beneficial is this preemptive strike strategy?
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Are You Lonely in Your Marriage?

Emotional abandonment happens when the other person is lying right beside us.

Roadblocks to Intimacy and Trust VIII: Parenthood? Not Sure?

The Roadblocks to Intimacy and Trust series explores the impact of early relationships on the establishment of intimacy in adulthood. VIII discusses the decision to parent or not.

Considering Reconciliation? Answer These Questions First

By Ken Page L.C.S.W. on October 25, 2017 in Finding Love
Real love is an ongoing saga of "rupture and repair.” Trying to reconcile is brave. It's hopeful. But if you want it to actually work, be sure to answer the following questions.

Forgetting the False and Dangerous

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on October 23, 2017 in Bear in Mind
Scientists say that what zoos teach is "false and dangerous." An interview with educator Kiersten Cluster examines captive-held Elephant psychological trauma.

The Neurobiology of Jealousy

By Christopher Bergland on October 23, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A first-of-its-kind study on the neurobiology of jealousy in monogamous monkeys sheds light on how male jealousy operates in humans, too.

The State of Affairs

By Mark Matousek on October 20, 2017 in Ethical Wisdom
"An affair upsets the status quo by not only bringing the subject of sexuality to the forefront, but every other aspect of their relationship as well," says Esther Perel.

Collective Intelligence in the Holocene: 7

By Michael Hogan Ph.D. on October 13, 2017 in In One Lifespan
Notwithstanding the uniqueness of human beings, a focus on the broadest timescale of analysis reminds us that evolution unites Homo sapiens with all other living systems.

Scams, Scandals, and Security Breaches

We may feel bombarded with stories about the lack of ethics, seemingly everywhere. But we can take charge and actively establish rings of trust around us.

7 Infidelity Preventatives Your Marriage Needs Today

By Zack Carter Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Clear Communication
The best defense is a good...defense.
Carlos R/Stocksnap

Are Past Relationships Putting a Damper on Your Current One?

By Vijayeta Sinh Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Life in Balance
Don't drag past relationships with you. Trying to understand them will help you move forward.

Managing Relationship Conflict: Letting Go of Being Right

By Hal Shorey Ph.D. on October 07, 2017 in The Freedom to Change
Tired of having arguments that end with you and your partner insisting that you both are right about long ago events? Learn to let go of being right and find strategies that work.

Nonparental Daycare: What The Research Tells Us

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on October 05, 2017 in Insight Therapy
Most American children will experience nonparental care. America has yet to adequately address the implications of this reality.

Two Magic Words that Keep Relationships Together

Here are the two most healing words in the English language--and why.

Timeouts: Good for Adults, but Not for Kids

Most adults know they shouldn’t hit, shame, yell at, or ridicule kids. Timeouts are just as bad. Here's why timeouts are good only for adults, with 13 ideas for what to do instead.

No, Honestly! It's All True!

By Nick Luxmoore on September 27, 2017 in Young People Up Close
Why make up stories, insisting that they're true? What do young people's lies mean and how should we respond?

Can Scientists Forecast Attraction?

Long-term attraction is more likely to occur in the presence of qualities facilitating attraction, together with personality traits such as availability and inscrutability.

Theoretical Orientations as Straw Men

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 25, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
The appeal of reviling other therapists' approaches.