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

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.

Oxytocin Ain't Behavin' How Scientists Thought It Would

By Christopher Bergland on September 23, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Contrary to popular belief, oxytocin (which is often called "the love hormone") also has a dark side that intensifies feelings of social defeat and fuels anxiety-driven behavior.

Emotional Connection

By Dianne Grande Ph.D. on September 22, 2017 in In It Together
What is the most effective way to keep your relationship joyful? Learn how to stay connected.

The Truth Behind Breaking Up: It All Comes Down to 16 Steps

Break ups...a matter of a familiar script?

Sharing the Love: Research Shatters Myths About Non-monogamy

By Michael Aaron, Ph.D. on September 20, 2017 in Standard Deviations
New research employing personality theory and moral psychology shatters myths about consensual non-monogamy.

Attachment Styles

Attachment styles can affect our partner selection, the way in which we relate to our significant other, and the behaviors we display during the course of our relationship.
Courtesy of Pixabay/Creative Commons

The Key to Healthier Relationships

How partners can help one another change their attachment styles and deepen their relationship.

Choice in Consensual Non-Monogamy

How consent, personal responsibility, and mutual reliance enable polyamorous people to construct designer relationships.
tomwang / 123RF Stock Photo

When Trust Is Gone, What Can You Do?

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on September 17, 2017 in Off the Couch
We live in a time when everyone is talking about trust and no one seems to be feeling much of it. Here's what you can do when you no longer trust.

14 Questions to Ask About the Quality of Your Relationship

Considering the many factors involved in relationships, it might seem impossible to narrow them down to a reasonable number. New research shows which are the 14 common elements.

The New Erotic Frontier: Sex in Nursing Homes

By Michael Castleman M.A. on September 15, 2017 in All About Sex
Nursing homes are slowly moving from a policy of “don’t” to “do not disturb.”

The Importance of Cuddling

By Vanessa LoBue, Ph.D. on September 11, 2017 in The Baby Scientist
Doctors are starting to tout the importance of skin-to-skin contact for newborns. Here's what science says about why touch is so important for babies, and for you.

6 Facts and Myths About Masturbation

While it may feel shameful to admit, everybody does it at some point in their lives.

Is Your Mother Narcissistic or Controlling?

By Peg Streep on September 06, 2017 in Tech Support
It's true that children whose emotional needs weren't met by their mothers share common ground, but there are still important differences that affect individual development.

I’m in a Sexless Marriage

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on August 31, 2017 in Minority Report
What does it mean when you're in a sexless marriage or relationship? Is something wrong with the relationship and is there any hope?

I Still Don't Feel Loved/Connected/Cared About!

One of the biggest issues to plague couples I see in my practice is the tension between what is happening and what is wanted. How do we turn this into an opportunity for intimacy?

Dogs as Healers, Dogs as Co-Therapists for PTSD

How Dogs Can Facilitate the Healing of Trauma.

What Your Earliest Food Memories Say About You

Memories of food associated with growing up influence you in ways you never realized. New research shows the role that food memory plays in adapting to adult life.

A Simple Tool for Greater Relationship Satisfaction

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on August 18, 2017 in ExperiMentations
In today's hectic, sometimes lonely, day and age, proven tools to increase passion and relationship satisfaction are a sought-after commodity. Research is illuminating and useful.
Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

A Sacred Circle

By Elizabeth Young on August 17, 2017 in Adaptations
Everyone took her neighbors' hands and the circle steadied and tightened: we created and held that sacred space.

How Men Really Feel About Sex

Sex begins in the body. While women’s desire for sex may be prompted by their mind, memory, or emotional feelings of connection, for men, desire is physical.

How Do We Decide Whether or Not to Break Up?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on August 07, 2017 in ExperiMentations
What factors do we weigh when deciding to leave a long-term relationship? How does attachment style influence decision-making? New research provides additional insight.

Why You Didn't Get What You Needed From Narcissistic Parents

The effects of emotional neglect by narcissistic parents are particularly pernicious and difficult to acknowledge, let alone overcome.

Considerations on "The Big Sick"

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on August 05, 2017 in Life After 50
Does Kumail Nanjiani's relationship with his parents ring bells for you?

Are Dog-Loving Millennials Driving House Prices Up?

More millennials are listing dogs as the biggest factor in their home buying decisions, ahead of marriage and children.

Plato, Phones, and That Embarrassing Silence

Is technology a problem? Was it in the past?

Why You Can’t Be Without Your Phone

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on August 02, 2017 in Love, Digitally
Do we become attached to phones as human attachment substitutes? Anxiously attached people keep their phones close to be in constant contact with other people.

How to Recognize Toxic Individuals and Toxic Relationships

Have you ever questioned if you are in a toxic friendship or toxic romantic relationship? Do you feel beaten down by individuals who say they care about you? Learn the red flags!
Volha_R/Shutterstock

You Really Need to Be Tracking Your Dreams

By Patrick McNamara Ph.D. on August 01, 2017 in Dream Catcher
Recording and working with your dreams on a regular basis may allow you to better predict your illnesses, cultivate your creativity and improve your daily social interactions.

How Childhood Emotional Trauma Impacts Adult Relationships

By Andrea Brandt Ph.D. M.F.T. on August 01, 2017 in Mindful Anger
There are many ways childhood emotional trauma continues to affect you even after you've grown up.