I am studying Postive Psychiatry at Sydney University and learning about the Theory of Attachment. Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to coin the term Attachment Theory. Children need care from their caregiver and without this care, their physical health and mental health can be affected.
Types of Attachment:
- Disorganised – may have experienced a trauma in their early relationships.
A child’s early experiences can shape their relationships and how they cope with stress. A strong attachment creates, a sense of stability and security needed to take risks and the ability to grow and develop. Children who are nurtured by their caregiver thrive and become resilient. They learn that they can ask for and get help when needed. They expect their caregiver to be a source of love and support. They learn to balance stress and pressures in life. They tend to be more adventurous and open to new experiences which is important for learning and development. Secure infants tend to be well-adjusted, resilient and able to get along with others and are well liked.
Children with insecure attachment can feel unconfident in their ability to cope with stress and turn away from help and feel they have to manage alone. Those with insecure attachments are more likely to be fearful and less willing to seek out and learn from new experiences. They can have an avoidant or dismissive strategy and can be either anxiously or angrily reliant on others. Children with insecure attachment often have parents who are insensitive to their needs, or inconsistent or rejecting in the care they provide.
Adult relationships can be a reflection of childhood experiences with their primary caregivers. Adults who were secure in their romantic relationships are more likely to recall their childhood relationships with parents as being affectionate, caring, and accepting. Adults who were secure as children grow up to be secure in their romantic relationships and are more likely to develop healthy relationships. Secure adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships than insecure adults.
According to Hazan and Shaver adult, romantic relationships function in ways that are similar to infant-caregiver relationships. The relationship between infants and caregivers and the relationship between adult romantic partners share similar characteristics.
Attachment styles are not set in stone and can change. Attachment Theory can be used to guide to support people’s mental health and wellbeing.