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Attachment Disorder


       As humans - animals - primates ----- we all need to attach at birth in order to survive.  This usually occurs innately from our biological mother.  It's how we develop a sense of trust and safety in our world.  It's intimately connected to our survival. We are social beings, we need to belong to survive ----- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.   When this is in place -- intact ----- one is then able to develop a sense of safety in the natural world, and can transfer that sense of security and safety to those we later form loving relationships with.  Relationships with the 'other' is a basic need.  It provides the mirroring we all need, to mirror back and receive the beginning of a 'Self & Identity' -- without that acknowledgement from the other, reflecting in one's eyes -- who we are ----- healthy self identity formation is difficult, if not impossible..  

For the Child, a disrupted and unhealthy attachment creates the inability to form and maintain loving and intimate relationships.  The child grows with an inability to trust that the world is a safe place, and security of being cared for by their caretakers.  These children become hypervigilent, with a need to control in order to develop a sense of safety - tied into their survival mechanisms.  Because of their sense of distrust in the world they encounter, these children are also rejecting of subsequent caregivers, and the love and care these providers offer -- those caregivers in essence become a potential threat to them ----- symbolic of a source of pain and abandonment, and abandonment.  These caregivers become a threat.  These children come to believe if they don't have total control of their worlds, they will die!!   And they will die again, if they risk love -- .  These rejecting children, are very difficult to love ----- but love is what these children desparately want and need to heal!   

 These 'abandoned' or 'non-attached' children struggle with an altered biochemisty and brain development.  Children with inadequate care or bonding interuption in the first years of their lives, live with extreme states of stress, causing the release of high levels of stress hormones --negatively  affecting healthy brain development. Additionally, it has been shown that 'consciousness' and 'moral'  development is dependent upon healthy brain development - requiring  normal attachment, and the ability to love.  These children, therefore show many of the behavioral symptoms often noted in childhood mental health disorders -- i.e. aggressiveness, disruption, and antisocial behaviors -- with diagnosis of Bipolar Mood Disorders,  Reactive Attachment Disorders. Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

There are several possible pre-disposing factors, which includes:
  •      Prematurity
  •      Unwanted Pregnancy
  •      Separation from birth mother
  •      Depression or Mental Illness in the mother
  •      Early life abuse/neglet
  •      Multiple caretakers
  •      Multiple hospitalizations
  •      Unresolved pain
  •      Painful and/ invasive medical procedures
  •      Faulty parenting
Treatment Modalities & Goals
  • Identify, mourn and resolve early losses  (play, art, sandplay therapy, cognitive understanding)
  • Establish healthy attachment to adoptive parents/ subsequent care giver  (i.e. high structure and high loving parenting models  "Nancy Thomas - Parent by Design" models)
  • Development of moral conscious - and ability to create empathetic connections
  • Reorganize belief systems and reorganize neurological brain change reactions to attachment relationships.


     A strong ego identity, formation of a healthy 'SELF',  and self -identity as an adult, has it's roots in the bonded experiences in infancy and childhood.  When this is disrupted - through disrupted early life nurturing and care - the recovering adult, is left without a strong self identity, with an inability to form healthy relationship ties as an adult.  Patterns of disrupted attaachment often continue through the life cycle and across generations.  New relationships are affected by the damage done in the past -- often leaving one struggling with establishing loving connections in the adult years.  There often can be a strong connection between insecure adult attachment and marital dissatisfaction and negative marital interactions.  If an adult has not had the experience of healthy attachment -- he/she will either yearn such attachment through overdependency and clingyness ----- or be overly controling and rejecting of others.  Dependent upon the personality type/predisposition of the individual he/she will either develop an AVOIDANT PERSONALITY  or ANXIOUS/ATTACHMENT personality struggle.  

Attachment problems are often experienced transgenerationally

 Goals for the adult, like the child focus on healthy relationship development --- Treatment Modalities!
  • Jungian Psychotherapy -- Personality Integration & Identity Formation 
  • Healing the wounded inner child
  • Affirmation -- developing self love
  • Challenge distructive belief and thought patterns
  • Establishment of healthy and trusting relationships with others.
  • Develop an expanded emotional language and feeling expression

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