ttachment behaviour follows a recognisable Patten and a predictable course in all human beings Attachment theory provides not only a framework for understanding emotional reactions in infants, but also a framework for understanding love, loneliness, and grief in adults.
What Is Attachment?
Attachment is a term used to describe the bond that forms or does not form between a baby and its parental figures. This early relationship is a very important foundation for mental health and a child's development. More and more research is showing that the roots of secure/insecure attachment can begin in the womb before birth dependant on many factors including, mental/physical health, food, drink, relationship with partner and how wanted the baby is. The levels of stress hormones coming through the umbilical chord has a profound influence on the growth of the child's brain, once born the brain growth is still partly dependent on whether the child's needs are met and by the level of attachment reached with the primary caregivers.
It is one of the most fundamental issues at the start of a child's emotional life and determines the ability to love both ourselves and others, it affects our core self worth and our very perception of life. Babies with secure attachment usually go on to be confident children who are more resilient and less prone to mental health problems. Without secure attachment figure/s deep psychological damage can occur which can affect our understanding of many or all of our emotions, how re interpret them, how we react to every situation in our life, and our ability to react and deal with people what ever our relationship is with them.
When an infant is separated from its parent, the infant goes through a series of three stages of emotional reactions.
First is protest, in which the infant cries and refuses to be consoled by others demanding the return of his/her attachment figure. ( Could last for up to 1 week)
Second is despair, in which the infant slowly loses hope that the attachment figure will return , she/he becomes sad, passive and grieves. This could take up to 10 days
Third is detachment, in which the infant slowly emerges from withdrawal and starts to notice his/her surroundings. The infant will look to attach to another figure and may actively disregard and avoid the parent if the parent returns, this relationship may take a long while to be rebuild and can be a painful journey
Attachment-Non attachment Responses
Infants who are securely attached generally do not experience significant upset when separated from their primary caregivers. If they become frightened they will seek comfort from the parent or caregiver. Contact readily given by a parent is readily accepted and they greet the return of a caregiver with positive response and behaviour. These infants are also less disruptive, less aggressive, are more empathetic and generally more mature than children with other attachment styles.
Parents of securely attached children tend to play more with their children. In addition these parents react quicker to their children's needs and are generally more responsive to their children than the parents of insecurely attached children.
Secure adults don't often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to them. They tend to have trusting, long-term relationships, also have a higher self-esteem, better enjoy intimate relationships, seeking out social support, and have an ability to share feelings with other people.
Insecure - Avoidant
Infants with avoidant attachment styles tend to be distant and avoid parents/caregivers. This avoidance often becomes especially pronounced after a period of absence. These children might not reject attention from a parent, but neither do they seek our comfort or contact. There is no expectation of comfort so the child has to cope on his/her own. Children with an avoidant attachment show no preference between a parent and a complete stranger.
Avoidant adults tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships they are nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, love partners want them to be more intimate than they feel comfortable being. They find it difficult to trust others completely and allow themselves to depend on others. They do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using many differing excuses or may fantasize about other people during sex. They may also be more accepting and likely to engage in casual sex
Insecure / Ambivalent
Infants who are ambivalently attached tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers. These children display considerable distress when separated from a parent or caregiver, but do not seem reassured or comforted by the return of the parent. These children both demand and at the same time resist attention by refusing comfort, they tend to be clingy, over demanding and emotionally taxing. In some cases they may openly display direct aggression toward the parent/caregiver or be passively aggressive.
Adults with an ambivalent attachment are often reluctant to get as close to others as they would like and worry that their partner doesn't really love them or won't want to stay with them. This leads to frequent break-ups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These adults feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship and may cling to young children as a source of security. Others may want to merge completely with another person, this desire sometimes scares people away.
Infants with disorganised-insecure attachment show a lack of clear attachment behaviour. Their actions and responses to adults/caregivers are often a mixture of behaviours, including avoidance or resistance. These children are described as displaying dazed behaviour, sometimes seeming either confused or apprehensive in the presence of a parent/caregiver. This may because of the inconsistent behaviour of the parents/caregivers, i.e. parents who give both fear and reassurance to a child , the child feels both comforted and frightened by the parent, confusion results.
These infants have generally been raised in establishments other than a "normal" household environment, where there have been a number of caregivers or where the caregivers have been unavailable either on a emotionally or physically level.
These children will generally have many social and behavioural problems, anger, aggression, uncontrollable impulses and may have developmental issues.