Attachment

Apr. 16th, 2013 07:33 pm
foliumnondefluet: (Default)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_in_adults

I find it reassuring that attachment modes change due to circumstances - fairly obvious I guess, when you think about it... I feel different about attachments now than I did... some time ago, before stuff happened; clearly negative experiences will affect one's style. On the other hand, that should mean that positive reinforcement should increase one's feeling of security - again fairly obvious, but I've seen people claim otherwise (to excuse their own dismissive-avoidant tendencies, perhaps). Attachment styles are not determined forever in your first year of life. (Well, perhaps the tendency towards anxious vs avoidant is, but not the security itself.)

I think in our present culture, there is a wide-spread sentiment that being dismissive-avoidant is more laudable than being "clingy" - in part this probably sits into the larger context of glorification of cynicism and nihilism and avarice and violence. I hate the larger context, and I dislike this instance, too. Aside from the larger context, I think there is also a tendency - excusable, but misguided - to conflate the anxious attachment style with teenage existential angst. Perhaps there is a correlation between kids being emo and being clingy, but it doesn't follow that anyone who gets passionate about closeness does so out of existential confusion, and it certainly doesn't follow that being avoidant and emotionally stunted is somehow more mature.

Being dismissive-avoidant is also a coping mechanism, and also less rewarding than being secure, so it's not somehow "better" than being anxious-preoccupied, I think. The preoccupied ones are still fighting, the avoidant ones just gave up! I sometimes wonder if being anxious-preoccupied causes more suffering in the short term but is perhaps easier to recover from than being dismissive-avoidant. I don't see how you could go from avoidant to secure.

If nobody can be relied on to respond positively, there is no way one will be able to develop (or maintain) a secure attachment style. "People with secure attachment styles may trust their partners to provide support because their partners have reliably offered support in the past." and "Relationships that frequently satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to more secure attachments. Relationships that rarely satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to less secure attachments."

(I like the definition of intimacy as "a special set of interactions in which a person discloses something important about himself or herself, and a partner responds to the disclosure in a way that makes the person feel validated, understood, and cared for.")

If attachment is a combination of anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy then it seems only natural to be anxious and preoccupied as long as these three needs are not adequately met. On the other hand, once they *are* reliably met I don't see why the anxiety couldn't lessen in time. Sometimes people say things like "I gave you a chance but you were still anxious so it's all in your head" but that sort of implies the support was conditional to begin with, and one can hardly feel secure about conditional support....

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