The Attachment Theory

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The attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth is an essential key that explains many child-parent relationships and the influence it has on development. Attachment is a process that begins during infancy in an individual’s life and can have long lasting effects. Bowlby’s theory concluded that the bonds formed between a caregiver and a child during the early years were the blueprints for future relationships. Ainsworth’s “strange situation” experiments and numerous studies tested Bowlby’s original theory and expanded on it. This paper will provide an overview on the research that has been conducted on the effects of attachment patterns on an individual’s early and later development.

Keywords: Attachment—Attachment theory—Attachment
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Insecure attachment is “characterized by fear, anxiety, anger, or indifference.” (Berger 2014, pg.193). An infant becomes insecurely attached to his caregiver when the child has learned that there are no positive effects to emotional expressions. For example, when a caregiver allows the child to “cry it out” and is unresponsive to the child’s needs, the child will learn that his needs will not be fulfilled by others. This results in the child not being able to develop any emotional awareness and might feel emotionally detached from his caregiver. Insecure attachment affects a child’s brain development which in turn impacts interactions with others, resilience, confidence and the ability to explore their environments. Insecure attachment contributes to “cognitive vulnerability to depression, specifically, dysfunctional attitudes.” (Lee & Hankin, 2009). Some characteristics of an insecurely attached child includes the inability to deal with stress, low self esteem, a lack of self control, and pseudo-independent behaviors. These children often behave as if they know that adults are inconsistently available. They do not seek an adult for help when in distress or dealing with a situation, or they avoid the caregiver…show more content…
They are dismissive-avoidant attachment, anxious-preoccupied attachment and fearful-avoidant attachment style. A dismissive/ avoidant adult is often uncomfortable with closeness, and has difficulty trusting others. They like to feel independent, self-sufficient and have an inability recalling details about their childhood. A preoccupied/ anxious adult has insecurities in relationships and often craves intimacy and closeness. Lastly, fearfully attached adults are characterized as being uncomfortable with intimacy and commitment as a result of memories of previous traumas. These experiences lead them to think they are “unlovable and that others are uncaring and unavailable to meet their needs.” (Vohs & Finkel 2006, pg.
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