The Conundrum of Attachment

What exactly do we mean when we talk about human -bonding? Why are some people harsh? Some people mellow; Some are grave and some are shrewd and shallow. The answer to this conundrum lies in the theory of attachment, proposed by a prominent psychologist; Jon Bowlby who came up with this evolutionary theory, expounding that the infants are biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others which will help them grow and survive. Hence, it becomes a necessity for mankind to make bonds. The first intimate bond that we develop is the one with our mother; the primary caregiver who nurtures the child and subsequently the child learns to connect with strangers. Parents play an indispensable role in moulding the manner we approach others. It frames the attachment style which later on determines the pattern of our behaviour as an adult. Another psychologist named Mary Ainsworth scrutinized the attachment theory and came across four human attachment styles. These four attachment styles are (I) Secure (ii)Avoidant (dismissive) (III)Anxious (preoccupied) (iv) Disorganized (Fearful-avoidant).

As a matter of fact, these styles are sorely affected by the childhood experiences and the trauma affiliated with it. It regulates our subconscious in an intricate way and will remain at the back of our head until the day of our demise. So in this article, I m going to lay emphasis on how these attachment styles permutate the way we act and react in a certain scenario. The manner and circumstances under which we are raised and nurtured considerably modify our thought-process and the overall evolution of our personality. The bond that we share with our family immensely influences our code of conduct and attachment with people surrounding us.

Let’s dive in deep to comprehend the exact meaning of these styles and how they govern our deportment in a social gathering. Starting off with the secure attachment style; people with this particular style share a strong and secure relationship with their family which makes them assertive in social situations. They never hesitate in seeking guidance and are feisty and ascertain that their needs and necessities will be met. Whenever they are needy, they make it known within their family and friend circle and are assured of reciprocation. With such an optimistic and laid back attitude, they are more likely to sustain their relationship in future because their childhood memories are sweet, lovable and healthy. In their case, love and trust come easily and such people are down to earth and easy to deal with. It makes the person upright and competent in pulling of tasks assigned to them. They possess a strong sense of discernment.

Moving on to our next attachment style i.e Avoidant (dismissive )type. As the name implies, people with avoidant attachment avoid being vulnerable and shun the sense of dependency on anyone. Independence is valued more and they may crave closeness yet fear intimacy. The reason being emotional neglection in childhood. The erratic parental affection and attention render a child helpless and insecure. They are persistently being told to fend for themselves. This leads to reluctance in opening up about their problems even in their family circle and consequently ends up in bottling up the emotions and insecurities with no outlet. They tend to quell their desires and keep their emotions to themselves. They are perplexed between wanting affection and concealing their emotions simultaneously and hereby end up thinking that they are better off without anyone’s support and silently grapple with their thoughts internally. Such people experience a  discomfiture when they see people discussing their emotional experiences around them. They tend to shy away from emotional proximity and are too daunted to divulge about themselves. When they somehow enter in a relationship, their actions baffle the other person in the wake of which that person misinterprets their demeanour. They try to keep their relationship at a shallow level and are least likely to maintain a long-term relationship. However, they appear to be self-sufficient and carry themselves with confidence. They are adept at handling pressure but are often emotionally unavailable for people around them.

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The third type is the anxious (preoccupied ) type. Generally, people falling under this category are said to be clingy and unsure about their emotions. They perpetually think that they require someone to complete them in order to make their life purposeful. They have this overwhelming fear of abandonment and they persistently ponder that they will be deserted by the people they love. They are always seeking validation from others due to low self-esteem. Moreover, they constantly need someone to boost their morale up. Their anxiety takes over their mind completely. Their disposition is a product of their parents’  sullenness who are emotionally unavailable for them. The dearth of a secure relationship with their parents makes the person reticent and bashful due to which they find it hard to make close friends and even if they do, they are inhibited and are always looking for reinforcement. They are accustomed to thinking highly of others and are sceptical about their own deftness. Such people develop passive-aggressive behaviour which makes them act in an eccentric manner. They never express their resentment overtly but deal with the antipathy implicitly. Major trust issues arise in such a case. When an anxious preoccupied person commits with someone, the clinginess and needy temperament make their partner repulsive. They always rely on their partners to remind them of their self-worth and await reassurance at short intervals. They are more likely to experience anxiety attacks due to the fright of rejection, estrangement or uncertainty in a relationship. Most of the times, an anxious preoccupied person falls for someone who is emotionally unavailable due to which they never actually resonate with each other and the former is constantly contemplating that the latter will abandon him/her no matter what.

The most challenging insecure attachment style is the disorganized (Fearful -avoidant)one. It develops when a person’s parents; the only source of support, becomes the source of fear. Child abuse, harsh treatment and terrifying experiences received from a primary caregiver affect a child’s psychology to a great extent. Inconsistent affection is the root cause of this disorder. Such people prefer solitary activities and enjoy alienation . They are uptight about everything. This dysfunctional disorder arises due to dysfunctional familial relations wherein the parent could be suffering from BPD(Borderline personality disorder) or could be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Being sexually abused in childhood makes it difficult for the child to trust his or her parent. Their perception of love gets altered and they feel that love is detrimental to their health because those who love them are the ones causing them immense pain. In such a harrowing ambience, survival becomes the focal point of their life. They just try to survive against all the odds and they expect the least from their parents. When their needs are not being attuned to by their caregivers, they know for a fact that it’s futile to expect love from anyone. The child gets agitated when a stranger tries to comfort them or show affinity towards them. Childhood trauma makes them cold and recalcitrant. They don’t know how to deal with those who exhibit care and concern. It is an unconscious defence mechanism which activates to avoid emotional pain. They have major trust issues and a strong fear of getting hurt by those who are closest to them. They are dumbstruck at times and end up hurting themselves. This self-sabotaging behaviour makes it tough for them to open up. For them,  talking means to empathise, and they want to avoid a connection at all costs. The apathetic attitude makes them odious and reluctant to indulge in any productive activity. They fall for those who show a correspondence with their parents’ attitude. They find it hard to resonate with an opposite attachment style and feel jittery when someone tries to invade their private space. This is because they are habitual of being neglected.

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I hope so as of now you all have spotted the attributes of your personality and are acquainted with your attachment style. Not that these syles can’t be altered. You can’t expect others to change their style but certainly can change yours. Having said that, those who find it hard to restyle their attachment run the risk of developing a strained relationship with their loved ones. So if you come across someone who seems a bit hard to love, don’t blame him or her but blame it on the attachment style that they have developed while growing up. Not to mention, we all try to conceal our sentiments but at the same time, we are hoping that someone sees through that crack and notice the pain that engulfs us. The least we can do is bridge the communication gap between our parents to make amends and maybe that will help in ameliorating the situation by giving an optimistic approach to life.

Author: Ilma Mujeeb

Ilma Mujeeb is born and brought up in Agra. Currently pursuing her second year in the degree of English literature at Jamia Millia Islamia. She is a growth-oriented person who devotes her time towards garnering pertinent information on crucial issues. To reach and claim the heights has always been the driving force behind all her endeavors. She strives to achieve the highest standard possible at any task assigned to her. A go-getter with an optimistic approach, who thinks out of the box in order to ameliorate her skills as a content writer. She has a strong inclination towards social psychology. Besides writing, she is also fond of singing and is a musicophile.

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