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

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How Naked Are Your Boundaries?

By Diana Raab Ph.D. on April 25, 2017 in The Empowerment Diary
Do you feel as if your boundaries are blurred or sometimes invaded? Personal boundaries are highly-individualized and your body can provide the answers you might need.

Learning How to Tease and Be Teased

By Nick Luxmoore on April 22, 2017 in Young People Up Close
Young people spend hours teasing each other and being teased. Why? Why do they do it? And how do they learn when to stop?

Are You the Pursuer or the Distancer in Your Relationship?

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The Good Reasons We Get Involved in Bad Relationships

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Does Prince Harry Reveal How To Cope With Loss?

...the counterintuitive finding is that such a profoundly negative experience as losing a parent during childhood, can lead you to feel more gratitude or appreciation for life...

What Is Your Conflict Style?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 14, 2017 in Talking Apes
Conflict is inevitable, but how couples approach it determines whether their relationship will be strengthened as a result, or torn apart.

Disorganized Attachment: Fears That Go Unanswered

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on April 12, 2017 in The Me in We
How disorganized attachment in infancy impacts emotional and social development.

Polyamory: A New Way of Loving?

By Neel Burton M.D. on April 06, 2017 in Hide and Seek
Polyamory and its pros and cons.

Are You Taking an Anti-Love Drug?

Before writing off the idea of a love drug, you might be surprised to learn how some common drugs are already affecting the bio-chemical bases of love.

Protective and Risk Factors Associated With Trauma

By Asa Don Brown Ph.D. on April 04, 2017 in Towards Recovery
What is your personal susceptibility to trauma?

Europe's Largest Rolling Stones Collection Unveiled

Some people spend a lifetime collecting merchandise from their favorite band. Reinhold Karpp's story of his near fifty-year pursuit takes the cake.

Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

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Love at First Sight: New Research on Who's Attracted to Whom

Whether or not you believe in love at first sight, there’s a case to be made for instant attraction. New research on speed-dating shows how personality affects romantic choices.

How Much Solidarity Do You Feel With Animals?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on March 23, 2017 in Animals and Us
A new scale helps researchers study why some people identify with animals and others despise them.

Pets of the Homeless: Attachment Figures and Social Support

By Zazie Todd Ph.D. on March 23, 2017 in Fellow Creatures
Why do homeless people have pets? It turns out that homeless youth with pets are less depressed and lonely than those without, but pets bring disadvantages too.

Want to Build a Dog From A Fox? Here's How To Do It.

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails that are as friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes.

Relationship Mistakes to Watch Out For Early On

While some people do change, most don't. Old habits die hard. If things are difficult now, the likelihood is that they are only going to get worse.

How to Raise a Securely Attached Child

By Alice Boyes Ph.D. on March 22, 2017 in In Practice
Simple, practical tips for developing emotional trust.

Get Outside in a Park With Your People

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 21, 2017 in Open Gently
Get outside in greenery to have difficult conversations or to bond.

Are You in a Toxic Relationship?

If a pattern of toxic love describes your relationship, there is a way out of this spiral. Here are four signs that suggest your relationship very well may be toxic.

Responding to Your Partner's Attachment Style

By David Ludden Ph.D. on March 20, 2017 in Talking Apes
According to recent research, to get what you want out of a relationship, you first have to give your partner what they want.

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10 Ways to Help Your Daughter Get Over Her Boyfriend

A breakup is like drug withdrawal.

Predatory Polyamory?

My first blog on this topic told monogamous folks that they did not need to worry about poly people trying to steal their partners, but readers wrote in telling a different story.

How Relationships Work

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 19, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Want a straightforward, research-backed, practical overview of how relationships work? Here it is.
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Are We Doomed to Repeat Our Relationship Patterns?

Do the attachment styles we develop in childhood inevitably shape our adult relationships? And if so, can they be changed?

More Proof That Skin-to-Skin Contact Benefits Babies' Brains

Growing evidence suggests that skin-to-skin contact plays a significant role in healthy childhood brain development for all newborns, but especially for babies born prematurely.

Why Young People Destroy the Very Things They Need Most

By Nick Luxmoore on March 15, 2017 in Young People Up Close
When young people spurn our best attempts to love and support them, why do they do this?