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The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Adulthood

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The first few years of life are crucial for our growth. According to the Attachment Theory, our development requires a deep emotional and physical link with one major caregiver throughout our earliest years of life. We feel safe to explore the world if our bonding is strong and we are securely bonded. Somehow, We know there is always that safe haven where we can go at any time. We feel insecurely bonded if our bond is weak. We’re terrified to leave or explore a frightening-looking environment since we don’t know if we’ll be able to return.

Securely attached people are thought to have more trust, can connect with others, and are hence more successful in life. People who are insecurely attached are more likely to mistrust others, have poor social skills, and have difficulty building relationships. In reaction to distress, there is one form of safe attachment and three types of unstable attachments: anxious ambivalent, anxious avoidant, and anxious disorganised. The first three react in a well-organized manner, whereas the fourth reacts in a disorganised manner.

Gain a deeper understanding of The Attachment Theory.

Take a peek at Mr. Mrs. Gavin, who is the mother of four children. They are wonderful parents who cuddle their children, make regular eye contact, speak lovingly, and are constantly available to their children. Mr. Gavin, on the other hand, becomes ill and eventually dies. Mrs. Gavin’s life has suddenly become quite difficult. She works all day and tries to care for her children at the same time, which is an impossible feat. Mr. Gavin’s eldest son’s brain is mostly matured at six years of age. His personality is powerful, and his worldview is well-formed. He is unaffected by the new scenario and understands that his mother will always be his safe refuge. He has a strong sense of attachment.

The Attachment Theory: How childhood affects adulthood
How childhood affects adulthood

Later in life, he matures into a trusting and upbeat young man. His self-esteem is high.

The other child, who is three years old, is having difficulty coping with the mother’s new lack of attention.

She is worried about their connection and becomes clingy as a result. She has to raise her emotional condition and shout to catch her mother’s attention. When her mother finally responds in an expected manner, she acts ambivalently and later in life does not express her genuine feelings. Others believe the child is erratic or moody. Her self-esteem is in shambles. Her connection style is tense and ambiguous.

Their third child is two years old and spends his days with his uncle, who adores him but believes that a proper education entails severe discipline. His uncle becomes enraged and occasionally punitive if the tiny kid displays excessive emotion or is too noisy. This terrifies the youngster. He learns that in order to prevent dread, he must suppress his emotions in specific situations. As an adult, the child maintains this strategy and has difficulty forming relationships, as well as a bad self-image. His attachment is a nervous avoidant attachment.

The fourth child, who is just a year old, is in a nursery. Staff that is depleted, overworked, and frequently stressed; some are even abusive. As a result, the child becomes fearful of the very individuals she seeks refuge from. A disagreement that threw her ideals about love and safety into disarray. The child is experiencing unresolved fear and is attempting to avoid all social encounters. She considers herself undeserving of love as an adult. Her self-esteem is quite low. Her attachment is disorganised and anxious.

Our bond is developed during our early years of life.

We are too young to verbalise our concern at this age, and as a result, we may feel significant amounts of stress. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are then produced by our adrenal gland, which is located on top of our kidneys. We become more alert as our heart rate rises, our blood pressure rises, and our blood pressure rises. Toxic stress is what happens when this happens regularly. Toxic because it interferes with a child’s brain development and weakens the immune system in embryos at an early age. This toxic stress can even alter gene expression, which can have long-term consequences for human health.

We can examine an attachment style at the age of one by simulating a novel situation. To accomplish this, we allow the child to play with their mother within a room for a few minutes before leaving them alone. When the mother returns, the child’s reaction is crucial. Securely bonded youngsters frequently embrace their mother first, then calm down and return to playing. Children, insecurely bonded can be ambivalent and avoidant. Some people can’t stop sobbing or won’t play any longer.

The long-term consequences of our early attachment are widely recognized in The Attachment Theory.

Using the hypothesis, researchers at the University of Minnesota were able to predict with 77 percent accuracy whether a child will drop out of high school at the age of three. Undergraduates at Harvard were asked to rate how close they felt to their parents in another survey. When they were queried about their health 35 years later, 91 percent of individuals who claimed they had a strained connection with their mother were also diagnosed with heart disease, hypertension, and alcoholism. Only 45 percent of respondents who said they had a friendly relationship had a poor health diagnosis.

There’s another reason why the first few years are so important. They serve as a springboard for further actions. At the age of two, a child who feels safe in his or her attachment can make friends in kindergarten. Every connection reinforces their viewpoint, and they acquire optimism. As a result, they form positive relationships in school, college, and eventually at employment. Children who bond extremely insecurely miss this opportunity.

“What cannot be communicated to the mother cannot be communicated to the self”, according to The Attachment Theory pioneer John Bowlby. In other words, those who are insecurely attached may not fully comprehend themselves, and in order to understand who they are and how they feel, they may need to travel back in time.

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