Friday, December 31, 2010

Attachment Theory

Notes about attachment theory from A Secure Base by John Bowlby:
  • The inclination to make intimate emotional bonds to particular individuals – care-giving and care-seeking - is a basic component of human nature.
  • During infancy and childhood bonds are with parents (or parent substitutes) who are looked to for protection, comfort, and support.
  • The urgent desire for comfort and support in adversity is not childish, as dependency theory implies. The capacity to make intimate emotional bonds with other individuals, sometimes in the care-seeking role and sometimes in the care-giving one, is regarded as a principal feature of effective personality functioning and mental health.
  • When an individual of any age is feeling secure he is likely to explore away from his attachment figure. When alarmed, anxious, tired, or unwell he feels an urge towards proximity (to be near or close).
  • Provided the parent is known to be accessible and will be responsive when called upon, a healthy child feels secure enough to explore.
  • A secure home base remains indispensible for optimal functioning and mental health (at any age).
  • The presence of an attachment control system and its linkage to the working models of self and attachment figures that are built in the mind during childhood are held to be central features of personality functioning throughout life.
I think that examples of "working models of self and attachment figures" based on secure attachment include the following core beliefs:
  • I am loved. I am worthwhile.
  • I can trust others. Others will respond to my needs and care for me.
These beliefs, based on our earliest experiences, were ingrained before we had words - encoded as feelings, bodily sensations, images - domains of the right brain.  Putting the stories of these and other emotional experiences into words and language - a domain of the left brain - completes the process and leads to integration.  Integration of the left and right brain, integration of thoughts and feelings, balancing positive and negative emotions, integration of the body and mind - is the definition of well-being, physical and mental health.

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