The feelings and emotions we associate with relationships as adults, as well as how we respond to them, are dependent upon how we bonded as a young child to our primary caregiver. What we learn young predicts our future relationships. Insecure attachment patterns lead to the development of attachment disorders in adults.
What is an Attachment Style?
Attachment styles can be considered a set of characteristics related to interactions that stretch along a continuum. While it’s common to exhibit characteristics of each style, people tend to latch onto one primary style in which they express throughout their life.
Many studies have shown that infants are highly responsive to their environments, especially toward their primary caregivers. They rely on the caregiver to provide security and safety. When certain needs are neglected or met with distress, an attachment disorder may develop.
Attachment Disorders in Adults as Defined by the DSM-V:
Secure adults had consistent and reliable caregivers; and thus, are able to interact in relationships with the belief that people are supportive and dependable. They express love and view themselves as lovable.
When a trauma occurs within the secure attachment, one of the following attachment disorders can occur in varying degrees.
Avoidant: Dismissing Style (high avoidance, low anxiety)
As a child, the Avoidant perceived their caregiver as nonnurturing, dismissive, and critical. They tend to have a dismissive state of mind with vague childhood memories. Intimacy and affection are uncomfortable. There’s a detachment to their personality; they don’t know how to express their needs or ask for help. They can be passive aggressive or sarcastic as a way of keeping people at a distance. They pride themselves on independence and resist having to ever rely on anyone.
Ambivalent: Preoccupied Style (low avoidance, high anxiety)
The Ambivalent had parents who shifted between being available and loving to unresponsive and cold for no apparent reason. As a result, individuals with this type of attachment style tend to worry too much about what others think of them rather than considering their own feelings and emotions toward the other person. The ambivalent can come across as clingy, in need of excessive validation, and often doubt their worthiness in a partnership.
Fearful Avoidant Style (high avoidance, high anxiety)
The fearful avoidant can be understood as a person who desires a loving relationship, but once they attain it, they are struck with the inescapable fear of abandonment. This is a “come here, get away from me” type of person. As children, adults with this type of attachment style were most likely met with a parent who was either also frightened or frightening. In this way, the child only received more of what they were running from in the first place.
Addiction as an Attachment Disorder
There are schools of psychological thought that view addiction as an attachment disorder. When children are not properly nurtured, they will find alternative methods to self-soothe. These self-soothing mechanisms can develop into compulsive or addictive behaviors.
Treatment for an Attachment Disorder as an Adult
According to the latest research, it’s not so much what happened to us when we were young that causes us emotional and psychological deficits as we age; but rather, the narrative we tell ourselves and others. It’s the meaning we garner from our remembered childhoods.
Being able to identify and diagnose attachment disorders is crucial for treatment. When coupled with other mental illnesses, finding a therapist or treatment center that offers dual diagnosis offers advantages in treating all co-occurring illnesses.
In addition to offering dual diagnosis treatment, First Step Center of Arizona provides individualized care for each client at its inpatient residential treatment center. With only 10 beds, our all-male clientele benefit from receiving a personalized program tailored to meet specified needs.
We offer programs and therapies like:
First Step Center also offers:
Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. Everyone deserves to build healthy relationships. First Step Center understands this sentiment and believes in offering comprehensive treatment that offers a cutting edge technology and a variety of therapeutic methods to assist you or a loved one in getting well. To find out more about attachment disorders in adults or addiction treatment, call us now at 866.832.6398.