Attachment

So one of the things I have discussed while back in St. Louis is attachment, specifically attachment disorders. My sister works with abused children, and she sees a lot of this in the kids she works with. Essentially, because of how a parent or other important figure treats or responds to a child in early life, the child will start to exhibit certain behaviors. Children with this problem might become detached, excessively emotionally inhibited, and unresponsive to comforting, or they might also become indiscriminately social or inappropriately familiar with whoever they feel attached to.

One of the things my sister noted is that she sees some of this in both me and her. I am, on the whole, a pretty detached person, and up until very recently, had great difficulty expressing myself emotionally. I am uncomfortable being touched or comforted by people I don’t know or trust, but start to crave it from those I do. I form very few attachments, but those I form are extremely close; once I let someone in, they get access to everything. My sister, on the other hand, became indiscriminately social, getting to know everyone and be friendly with them all, but never really letting anyone get too close.

She thinks this might stem, initially, from our adoption as children – our very first caregivers chose to give us up rather than raise us, and we might have unconsciously absorbed that. It might also have come from the multiple moves our family made when we were young children – I formed very few attachments because I was afraid to lose them, which I knew I would, while she formed many attachments, but not really any close ones. I don’t know that I can really argue with either of those, though I’ve never considered adoption to be a big issue in my life.

It does sort of fit, though, because things like that can, apparently lead to a number of things later in life – among them being depression, low self-esteem, and the inability to form meaningful relationships. I definitely have the first two, and I have been unable to form certain kinds of relationships successfully – mostly casual relationships and romantic ones. I think the casual is a problem for me because I either consider someone a friend or not, with no real shading in between. As for romantic, well, I am terrified of rejection, and am also massively overprotective, tow qualities which would likely make a romantic relationship with most women extremely hard. But you never know, it might happen someday. It makes me feel for the kids with attachment problems, though, and those others who grew up with them and are now dealing with the consequences, because there’s nothing a kid can do to change that. 

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4 comments on “Attachment

  1. Bang Bang says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the relationship thing. Most of the so called normal people I know have a terrible time finding happy monogamous relationships. All my friends have gone through several significant others. One has gone through two fiances before he found a good one. I wouldn’t use the lack of a significant other as any kind of yard stick.

  2. EM says:

    I went much longer without success romantically than most of my peers. No casual dates or relationships that simply didn’t work out, just no relationships period. And it is an important step for a person to connect to others early in adulthood. The teenage mind builds these things up, and the longer you go, the harder and less casual the possibility becomes, so that when you form a casual relationship with someone, you look right away for the romantic possibility, and build it up into a huge bubble. For me, I finally learned that it has to start casual, no expectation, moment by moment, otherwise you creep the other person out. I think your idea to work on casual relationships is very good.

    The attachment issue along with adoption is very interesting and sounds like it is worth giving more thought, to. I read a book called Magical Child that goes into detail about traumatic births and parental bonding, and how these can effect the future psychology and learning ability of an individual. It’s amazing how resilient human beings are, that we survive and grow, anyway, but there are so many things that effect our well-being that the culture at large overlooks. I also don’t think these deficiencies, looking back, should be blamed upon individuals – it is the culture at large. One of my favorite writers, Derrick Jensen, says “You’re not crazy, and it’s not your fault.”

  3. clementinegoesusa says:

    Attachment starts in the womb, and continues in the very first few weeks of life. So it’s very possible that you carry some of that baggage with you now. But like another person said here; nothing’s definitive about it, and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

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