The 4 types of emotional attachment

The way we relate says a lot about our personality and our life history. There are 4 types of emotional attachment.

Through attachment, the effective, intense and lasting bond that develops between two individuals is understood. These relationships are formed from birth and are changing throughout life depending on the environment and the people with whom we live.

The English psychoanalyst John Bowlby was the first to present the theory of attachment, but it was Mary Ainsworth who categorized the types of attachment in the infant stage. He established four different categories, and understanding them is always very interesting, especially for those who have children.

The 4 types of emotional attachment

From the moment of birth, the baby is very perceptive to the mother figure. The reactions, emotions, and behaviors of the mother are very important, and it is with her that the first attachment relationship is established. Between 6 and 9 months, the baby establishes a bond with her despite being able to be afraid of other people she does not know.

If the attachment is safe and healthy, the baby knows he will have someone to protect him from a sense of threat. This gives you confidence and confidence to explore and establish relationships outside of your safe circle. If the attachment is not safe, the baby will manifest other types of attitudes.

1. Secure attachmentemotional attachment

When there is a secure attachment, the child feels confident and secure with his surroundings. This attachment is a construction that takes place from the first days of life. The effective bond will be formed in this first stage if the figure of care gives the child attention and care before his claims. With time and as the baby grows it gets stronger.

In the first months of life, the baby’s way of expressing that he needs something and asking for help is mostly crying. For this reason, it is important that parents learn to detect their needs and address them correctly. It is one of the types of emotional attachment.

Babies who have this secure attachment feel confident and secure. At the moment they perceive some kind of threat or problem to solve they ask for help. If your attachment figure responds in some way to your call, the secure attachment will be strengthened.

As a result of this, a child who maintained a secure attachment is confident in establishing relationships with others and shows great adaptability to new environments. By the same rule, an adult who has developed a secure attachment is capable of establishing a stable, committed and trust-based affective relationships. At the same time they do not fear to be alone, nor are they afraid of abandonment.

2. Ambivalent attachmentemotional attachment

A child with ambivalent attachment has the uncertainty of whether his caregivers will come or not if he needs them. Before the first calls for help that the baby presents, his figure of attachment comes sometimes but not others. For the baby, he is absent without explanation and does not observe his presence (calling him in the distance, sending someone to assist him). It is another type of emotional attachment.

This happens because although it has been attended to on some occasions not others. This inconsistency causes constant uncertainty in not knowing what to expect from your caregiver and attachment figure. When he starts to crawl and can get away, he does it very little and with much nervousness, without losing sight of his caregivers and without concentrating on his main activity.

For this reason, children who have an ambivalent attachment tend to show a constant attitude of complacency towards their parents or caregivers. They seek their approval at all times and do not usually get away from them much. When they do and return to them they can be distrustful and sometimes even angry about the separation.

An ambivalent attachment in childhood can lead to codependent attitudes in adult life. They present a constant fear of rejection and abandonment that leads to harmful behaviors to relate emotionally. They are insecure and fearful of change.

3. Avoidant attachmentemotional attachment

In the avoidant attachment, the child shows total indifference to his primary caregiver. This is because during his first stage he did not receive care. When not even the smallest relationship of affection has been carried out, sensitivity is not shown. The needs of the child that are covered are those of more physical and urgent nature.

If the parents have been indifferent to the baby or have even shown rejection attitudes, a different relationship to the previous ones begins to be built. In the avoidant attachment, the child knows that his needs will not be met and that even his emotions are annoying to his caregivers. It is one of the types of emotional attachment.

Because of this, the child shows false independence. In the absence of his attachment figure, he does not show anger or sadness or worry (although he may feel it). As he returned the child does not manifest joy at his arrival, nor does he feel angry at his absence. However, the fear of being alone or with strangers exists despite not manifesting.

In their adult life, these people are unable to show their emotions. They find it difficult to feel empathy, and at the same time they fear abandonment and being alone. Their effective relationships are overshadowed by their insecurities and fears and by their lack of expressiveness and understanding.

4. Disorganized attachmentemotional attachment

Disorganized attachment is associated with abuse and family violence. In this type of attachment, the avoidance of the ambivalent attachment has been gone for long periods of time. Although there are times when the baby has been treated and given expressions of affection, on the other hand, most of the time has been ignored or attacked.

When the baby becomes mobile, whether crawling or walking away from his attachment figures for insecurity and fear of not being helped if required. At the same time, you may show rejection if you try to give affection. Very strong rages of anger may begin to occur at this stage or later.  It is one of the types of emotional attachment.

Sometimes, a child with disorganized attachment shows rejection to their parents. He seeks to avoid them, he flees and he prefers not to be near them. However, there are times when you may feel homesick and want to be with them. Normally when this happens, rejection reappears. All this accompanied by poor or no management of emotions by the child.

In adult life, a disorganized attachment makes it very difficult for people to relate emotionally. The outbursts of anger are frequent, without having any kind of emotional tool to handle them. In both children and adults, psychological therapy is usually required to heal wounds and re-create bonds from a healthy base.

Jeffrey Wilson

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