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Attachment Theory

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Mathieu Denis

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of Attachment Theory

A type of attachment displayed as a result of inconsistencies in the primary caregiver's response to the distressed child, with occasional neglectful responses classified as ambivalent or resistant.
The child has no feelings of security towards their caregiver, is difficult to soothe, and displays resistant behaviour.
Infant-Caregiver relationship style and influences on attachment
source: http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC1YCGM_caution-not-child-resistant?guid=9371d902-3972-462b-8b4a-1ddd16e34949
Attachment Theory
Secure Attachment
A secure attachment relationship style is present when the primary care giver, often the mother, will be the point of reassurance in times of distress. The child will see them as a safe haven to explore their surroundings.
To ensure secure attachment; behaviours such as appropriately, promptly and consistently responding to the infant's needs are vital.
Insecure Avoidant Attachment
This particular style of attachment is exhibited by the child not seeking his or her primary caregiver's reassurance in times of distress. Some of the factors contributing to avoidance are; little to no response to the distressed child, and encouraging independence and discouraging crying.
Ambivalent/Resistant Attachment
Disorganized Attachment
Disorganized attachment can be conceptualised as an irregularity in the child's behavioral responses when distressed. The child may either avoid or approach the care giver, but does not display consistency. This attachment is enhanced by deviating responses from the parent.
Disorganized attachment is also linked to maltreatment.
Studies and experiments conducted by various psychologists and psychiatrists from the late nineteenth century until now, have had different views on the infant-mother relationship. This presentation will focus on the 'Attachment Theory', and the four types of attachments obtained as a result of the 'Strange Situation' experiment conducted by Mary Ainsworth, a student of John Bowlby.
Infant-Caregiver relationship style and influences on attachment
Components of Attachment
Secure Attachment has all the components of Bowlby’s "Attachment Theory". They are proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base and separation distress.
The key components for secure attachment are proximity maintenance and safe haven. "Proximity Maintenance" involves the child wanting to be physically closer to their caregivers.
"Safe Haven" involves the child seeking protection from caregivers when frightened.
Behaviours and mannerisms

Effects on relationship functioning in adulthood
Securely attached people generally believe in enduring love, and often describe their love experiences as happy and trusting. Furthermore, they are also more able to accept their partners' faults.
According to Hazan and Shaver’s "scales study"; their relationships tended to endure longer, at 10.02 years on average, with only 6% being divorced.

Therapy and treatments available
Anyone deemed to have a 'Secure Attachment' to their caregiver(s) is considered to feel safe, well cared for and confident that they can rely on their them to provide what they need; therefore, they would not require any form of treatment or therapy, (Annette Kussin ,Leaside therapy centre).
Infant-Caregiver relationship style and influences on attachment
Components of Attachment
Insecure/ Avoidant attachment does not include any of the usual components.
A key point to note with insecure avoidance is when children are separated from their caregivers they demonstrate minimal discomfort, which shows that they show no separation distress, no need for a safe haven, and no need for a secure base or to be in proximity of their caregivers.
Behaviours and mannerisms
Effects on relationship functioning in adulthood
Therapy and treatments available

Treatment of insecure/ avoidant attachment is still in the experimental stage; however, some therapies have been suggested, as outlined by Lawrence B. Smith (2010).
The therapist must first break through to the patient and uncover what has caused their sadness.
"Holding Therapy" is suggested as beneficial, (see diagram in "therapy and treatments for ambivalent/ resistant attachment") followed by close monitoring and reassurance that they can rely on the support of their caregivers.
Components of Attachment
Effects on relationship functioning in adulthood
Infant-Caregiver relationship style and influences on attachment
Components of Attachment
Disorganized attachment can be categorized into either; secure, avoidant or ambivalent attachment styles, so children tend to show a variety of similar components or none at all.
Caregivers who act in ways that promote disorganized attachment usually behave inconsistently, creating confusion for the child resulting in mixed emotions and feelings, (i.e. the child not knowing if their caregiver is a safe haven, or will cause separation distress).
Behaviours and mannerisms
The behaviour of a child suffering disorganized attachment will be of fear and confusion. The child will feel they do not have a safe refuge and avoid any parental figure.
Any attempt to offer parental guidance will be met with resistance.

Effects on relationship functioning in adulthood
Therapy and treatments available
To treat symptoms of disorganized attachment, patients are prescribed an anti-psychotic medication to calm their fragile nervous systems, (Lawrence B. Smith, 2010).
It is also important that a new behavioural pattern is encouraged through the reliable reactions of the caregiver. The child must be encouraged to break the pattern of their rage responses to their environment, until a consistent pattern can be created.
source: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021438748
source: http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/attachment-parenting/Pros-and-cons
source: http://celebritykidsmagazine.com/index.php/parents/3092-7-things-you-should-avoid-saying-to-your-toddler.html
'The Strange Situation' experiment
Secure Attachment
Insecure/Avoidant Attachment
Disorganized Attachment
source: http://www.gadgetcage.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/TESTTUBE.jpg
It is clear that a key component within ambivalent/resistant attachment is separation distress, and in turn develops "separation anxiety", which is similar to loneliness or sadness experienced when children are separated from their caregiver.
Children with ambivalence problems tend to carry through their anxiousness to their adulthood relationships.
Infant-Caregiver relationship style and influences on attachment references:
APA Psychnet. PsycARTICLES : Citation and Abstract. [ONLINE] Available at: http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/0012-1649.25.4.525. [Last Accessed August 2013].

Connors, Mary E., ( 2011). Attachment theory: A “secure base” for psychotherapy integration. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. Vol. 21 (Issue 3).

Main, M., (1996). Introduction to the special section on attachment and psychopathology: 2. Overview of the field of attachment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol. 64 (Issue 2)

Saul Mcleod (2008). Mary Ainsworth. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html. [Last Accessed August 2013].

Children diagnosed as ambivalent develop aggression towards their primary care giver(s); however, when their caregiver(s) leave, ambivalent children begin to show signs of distress.
Children usually grow up to be "clingy", and their relationships tend to be short-lived.
Behaviours and mannerisms
It is important to note that whilst Holding Therapy has been suggested as a treatment of Ambivalent/ Resistant attachment used by psychiatrists such as Martha A. Welch (1989); the technique is still considered quite controversial.

As the diagram depicts there is a particular way of conducting this therapy, and should not be attempted by anyone inexperienced.
Therapy and Treatments Available
Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635191573/Holding-therapy-suit-still-alive.html?pg=all
The behaviour of a child with a secure attachment to their caregiver is of ease when they are around.
They usually cry out or become visibly upset when stressed and turn to their caregiver for comfort.
Components of attachment
Brisch, K. (2002),’Treating Attachment Disorders: Frome theory to Therapy,’ published by Guilford Press

Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P. (2009), ‘Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications,’ published by Guilford Press

Green, M. & Scholes (2011), M, ‘Attachment & Human Survival,’ published by Karnac Books

Martin, C. (2012), ‘Perinatal Mental Health: A Clinical Guide,’ published by M & K Update LTD

Simpson, J. & Rholes, W. (1998), ‘Attachment Theories and Close Relationships,’ published by Guilford Press

Shemmings, D. & Shemmings, Y. (2011), ‘Understanding Disorganized Attachment: Theory and Practice for Working with Children and Adults’ published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Spencer, A. (2006), ‘Childhood and adolescence: Voyages in development,’ published by Thomson Learning Inc
Sperling, M., & Lerman, W. (1994), ‘Attachment in Adults: Clinical and Developmental Perspectives,’ published by Guilford Press

Scharf, M. & Mayseless, O. (2011), ‘Attachment in Adolescence: Reflections and New Angles: New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Number 117’, published by John Wiley & Sons

A study performed by Hazan & Shaver (1987)
showed that avoidantly attached
people indicate they are
uncomfortable being close to others,
and nervous when anyone
gets too close.

Through the works of John Bowlby,
(1973, 1980); those who display an
avoidant style develop emotionally
distant relationships defined by lower
levels of trust, commitment, and satisfaction.
According to Cassidy and Berlin (1994); adults with ambivalent attachment often experience frequent breakups, and usually worry their partner does not reciprocate their feelings.
Furthermore, Cassidy and Berlin's work identified a pathological pattern where ambivalently attached adults cling to young children as a source of security.

Therapy and treatment references:
Annette Kussin, M.S.W, R.S.W. Understanding Attachment and Children with Insecure Attachment.. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.leasidetherapycentre.com/resources/articles/understanding_attachment. [Last Accessed 9/9/2013].

Chris Purnell, (2004), [ONLINE} Attachment Theory and Attachment- Based Theory.' Published in 'Attachment and Human Survival.' Edited by M. Green and S. Scholes, Karnac books, 2004.
http://www.thebowlbycentre.org.uk/pdf/attachment%20and%20attachment%20based%20therapy.pdf [ Last accessed 4/9/2013].

Lawrence B. Smith (2010). . [ONLINE] Available at: http://attachmentdisordermaryland.com/adspectrum.html . [Last Accessed 3/9/2013].
Opposing Abusive and Unvalidated Psychotherapy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.childrenintherapy.org/proponents/welch.html. [Last Accessed 12/9/2013].


Ainsworth,M (1979). 'Infant- mother Attachment. Volume 34 (10), October 1979- [Last Accessed online 10/9/2013].

Heinz Brisch, K (2002). Treating Attachment Disorders: From Theory to Therapy. : The Guilford Press. [Last Accessed online 11/9/2013]

Welch, M, (1988). Holding Time. 1st ed. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Sara Israelsen, Holding Therapy Suit Still Alive: Deseret Morning News,
Published Tuesday March 14th 2006. - [Last Accessed online 12/9/2013].
Individuals with disorganized attachment often have difficulty trusting people, as they were unable to trust
their own caregiver(s).
They may struggle in their
relationships, or when
parenting their own children.
There is a growing body of
research on the links between
abnormal parenting, disorganized
attachment and risks for later
psychopathologies, Zeanah CH (2003).

source: http://liveabundantly.ca/the-fearful-avoidant-attachment-style/

Cassidy.J, (1996). Attachment and representations of peer relationships. Developmental Psychology,. 32 (5), pp.892-904

Griffin, D.W., Bartholomew, K., (1994). Models of the self and other: Fundamental dimensions underlying measures of adult attachment.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 67 (3), pp.430-445

Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. R. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52 (3), pp.511-524

Shi, L., (2003). The Association Between Adult Attachment Styles and Conflict Resolution in Romantic Relationships.. American Journal of Family Therapy. 31 (3), pp.143-157

Simpson. J.A., (1998). Attachment Theory and Close Relationships. 1st ed. New York: Guilford Publications.

Zeanah, C.H. Keyes, A. Settles, L., (2008). Attachment relationship experiences and childhood psychopathology. Roots Of Mental Illness In Children. 1008, pp.22-30


source: http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/11/attachment-style-may-factor-into-fear-of-commitment/48925.html
source: http://liveabundantly.ca/the-fearful-avoidant-attachment-style/
Effects on relationship functioning in adulthood references:
source: http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/11/attachment-style-may-factor-into-fear-of-commitment/48925.html
Behaviour and mannerism references:
Children who suffer insecure avoident attachment will ignore their caregiver and show little to no distress when they leave. Furthermore, these children usually grow up to have little confidence in themselves.
Ainsworth, M (1979). 'Infant- mother Attachment. Volume 34 (10), October 1979- [Last Accessed online 10/9/2013].

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Mary Ainsworth | Attachment Styles - Simply Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

McLeod, S. A. (2009). Attachment Theory - Simply Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/attachment.html

Purnell, C. (2004), Attachment Theory and Attachment-Based Therapy : Attachment and Human Survival
Published by Karnac Books 2004

Renn, P (2009). Introduction to Attachment Theory

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