Posted in Alienation, Attachment

Attachment Theory and Parental Alienation | Ludwig Lowenstein –

 Following an acrimonious divorce or separation, arguments are  frequently presented as to why a child should not be with a non-resident parent. The custodial parent, whether a father or amother, uses the concept of a child being attached to himself or herself and therefore this should prevent the child from having actual or reasonable contact with the absent parent. This view is based on antagonism between the former partners rather than the importance of the attachment theory being relevant. The attach-ment theory is also used to discredit the intentions of the noncusto-dial parent. This is especially the case for the younger child. Witholder children this is not likely to be as relevant. The history of the development of the attachment theory commencing with Bowlby and Ainsworth is presented, and the counterarguments are also presented. Attachment to the mother is obviously important initially but attachment to the father is equally important to the child and such bonding is likely to lead to positive emotional and behavioral development. It is therefore argued that both fathers and mothers have an important role to play and are, or should be,responsible for the rearing of children. The acrimony between the couple should not be considered as relevant as it is, in fact, the real reason why attachment theory is used against a nonresident parent

https://www.academia.edu/32123228/Attachment_Theory_and_Parental_Alienation?email_work_card=view-paper

Posted in Alienation, Attachment

Attachment Theory and Parental Alienation | Ludwig Lowenstein –

 Following an acrimonious divorce or separation, arguments are  frequently presented as to why a child should not be with a non-resident parent. The custodial parent, whether a father or amother, uses the concept of a child being attached to himself or herself and therefore this should prevent the child from having actual or reasonable contact with the absent parent. This view is based on antagonism between the former partners rather than the importance of the attachment theory being relevant. The attach-ment theory is also used to discredit the intentions of the noncusto-dial parent. This is especially the case for the younger child. Witholder children this is not likely to be as relevant. The history of the development of the attachment theory commencing with Bowlby and Ainsworth is presented, and the counterarguments are also presented. Attachment to the mother is obviously important initially but attachment to the father is equally important to the child and such bonding is likely to lead to positive emotional and behavioral development. It is therefore argued that both fathers and mothers have an important role to play and are, or should be,responsible for the rearing of children. The acrimony between the couple should not be considered as relevant as it is, in fact, the real reason why attachment theory is used against a nonresident parent

https://www.academia.edu/32123228/Attachment_Theory_and_Parental_Alienation?email_work_card=view-paper

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Attachment, Parental Alienation PA

How attachment and brain development are linked?

Even with proper nutrition and perfunctory care, if an infant does not receive affectionate social interaction, her physical development will be stunted and her brain development compromised. The important role of sensory stimulation for brain development—discussed in Part II—is thought to be an important mechanism in an infant’s development. Even moments after birth, the child needs an attachment figure, and the social behavior of the newborn is designed to induce the parent into providing the resources required for her growth.9 In other words, the infant is typically quite effective at convincing her caregivers to relinquish their personal resources of time and money. Of course, the infant’s needed resources include food and protection, but there are other important needs to be filled. The caregiver must also control the infant’s physiological functions, such as temperature regulation. Specifically, the caregiver regulates the child’s temperature by dressing her in an appropriate manner as well as through physical contact and heat exchange. In fact, the caregiver controls many of the infant’s physiological systems and this appears to be a major mechanism for the caregiver to program the infant. This is a critical concept, because it further indicates that sensory stimulation is important and further explains why there is an certain level of sensory stimulation required for optimal development.

Myron Hofer calls the mother’s sensory stimulation of the infant a “hidden regulator” of the infant’s physiology and behavior.10 For example, touch regulates the infant’s levels of growth hormone, and the caregiver’s presence reduces the infant’s levels of stress hormone during stressful events. The regulatory function of the caregiver occurs fairly naturally once an attachment is formed and the caregiver has had the opportunity or has taken the time to learn how to parent (parenting is not an innate skill). This provides stimulation of the appropriate sensory system at the appropriate intensity and patterning to promote healthy development. There is no special receptor for love, a feeling of safety, or any other emotion to enter the child’s brain. The only way information about attachment quality can be transduced to enter the brain is through our five senses. This pattern of sensory stimulation is how experience enters the brain and changes its development via changing chemicals and individual neural activity. Healthy attachment naturally provides the developing brain with the appropriate sensory stimulation and neural activity. As is suggested by the wide range of child rearing approaches in different cultures, a wide range of types and patterning of sensory stimuli can produce a healthy child that matures into a healthy adult

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774302/

Posted in Attachment

Patterns of Attachment in Adults (A7-8)

A7: Delusionally idealizing individuals (Crittenden, 2000) have had repeated experience with severe danger that they cannot predict or control, display brittle false positive affect, and protect themselves by imagining that their powerless or hostile attachment figures will protect them. This is a very desperate strategy of believing falsely in safety when no efforts are likely to reduce the danger (cf., the “hostage syndrome”). Paradoxically, the appearance is rather generally pleasing, giving little hint of the fear and trauma that lie behind the nice exterior until circumstances produce a break in functioning. This pattern only develops in adulthood.

A8: Individuals using an A8 strategy (externally assembled self, Crittenden, 2000) do as others require, have few genuine feelings of their own, and try to protect themselves by absolute reliance on others, usually professionals who replace their absent or endangering attachment figures. Both A7 and A8 are associated with pervasive and sadistic early abuse and neglect.

Posted in Attachment

The Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation

The DynamicMaturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) emphasizes the dynamic interaction of the maturation of the human organism, across the life-span, with the contexts in which maturational possibilities are used to protect the self, reproduce, and protect one’s progeny.

Overview of the DMM

The Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) emphasizes the dynamic interaction of the maturation of the human organism, across the life-span, with the contexts in which maturational possibilities are used to protect the self, reproduce, and protect one’s progeny.

  • Maturation is both neurological/mental and also physical.
  • Maturation involves both the increase in potential during childhood and adulthood and also the ultimate decrease in potential in old age.
  • Contexts include both the people and places that affect development, e.g., family, school.
  • Context also includes the intra-and-interpersonal challenges of different periods of the life-span, including:
    • Infancy: The parents mediate the effect of the context upon the infant, including risk to the infant.
    • Preschool: learning safe forms of self-reliance for short periods of time;
    • School-age: establishing symmetrical attachments with best friends while concurrently maintaining affiliative peer relationships;
    • Adolescence: transforming best friend attachments into romantic, reciprocal attachments with a sexual component;
    • Adulthood: establishing (1) symmetrical and reciprocal spousal attachments that foster both partners’ development, (2) the nurturance of children in non-reciprocal, and (3) non-symmetrical attachment relationships in which the adult is the attachment figure;
    • Aging: attachments in later life when the adult is becoming less physically and mentally competent and in need of protection once again.
    • https://www.patcrittenden.com/include/overview.htm
Posted in Attachment, Social services

WHAT THEN DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR SOCIAL WORKERS IN THEIR WORK WITH CHILDREN WHO HAVE INSECURE/ANXIOUS ATTACHMENTS WITH MOTHERS, FATHERS, STEP-PARENTS/CAREGIVERS.

I think it is absolutely essential that social workers have a basic understanding of attachment theory and the importance of the early relationship between baby and mother (again used as shorthand) from the first moments of birth, and even in utero as there is evidence that babies can be adversely affected if there is tension, hostility, domestic violence etc., and how this insecure attachment pattern will affect the children as they grow through the ages and stages of childhood. They need to understand that attachment patterns are secure or insecure/anxious, not “strong” or any of the other adjectives that are often used. However it is only by observing the interaction between the mother and child that can demonstrate the attachment pattern. Having said that, great care should be taken not to jump to conclusions, and indeed I don’t think it fair that social workers should be expected to determine the exact attachment pattern between mother and child. This is more the work of clinical psychologists and play therapists, often working collaboratively.

The other important point is that LAs should make it a priority to ensure that all prospective and approved foster carers and adopters are given the opportunity to learn about attachment theory and practice. These children with insecure attachment patterns, or an attachment disorder are going to be in their care, and it can only be positive for them to have an understanding of the reasons for the child’s often difficult and challenging behaviour.

Adopters need to know that “love is not enough” (a commonly held view, and not unreasonable) but the child who has an insecure/anxious attachment with his mother, or an attachment disorder is going to prove a huge challenge for the adopters, especially in the case of the attachment disordered child. Indeed these children should be able to receive play therapy and the adopters should be assisted/guided by the therapist as to the best way of caring for the child, to enable the adverse effects of his early life to be minimised, and for him to begin to feel loved and valued for who he is, and that love and care is not conditional. There is no “quick fix” and sadly LAs are so cash strapped that they are highly unlikely to pay for play therapists. Some LAs have clinical psychologists who are able to offer training on attachment to social workers, managers, foster carers and adopters.

Many foster carers and adopters in the LA in which I worked said that it was “like the scales falling from their eyes” as they recognised the child who was insecurely attached to his mother, and the behaviours that were manifested as a result. Many of them went on to read and study the topic further and in turn were able to share their knowledge with other foster carers and adopters. https://childprotectionresource.online/category/attachment-theory-2/

Posted in Attachment

AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT

This attachment pattern forms when parents are insensitive, unreliable and inconsistently responsive. Children very often adapt the psychological defence of fight, and show angry behaviour, crying, whining, fretting, clinging, demanding, shouting and tantrums. This is an attempt to break through the emotional neglect, unavailability and lack of responsivity. Needless to say this generally doesn’t bring the desired response, and these children grow up feeling that they are not worthy of automatic interest. Other adults are seen as inconsistent and not always able to soothe and provide comfort. These children grow up to be particularly vulnerable to stress and are very frustrated (sub consciously of course) that the mother is emotionally desired but emotionally unreliable. At any one times these children’s relationships with their mother are guided by strong feelings of either love or anger.

It’s important to recognise that even when children are insecurely or anxiously attached to their mother, they can adapt their behaviour (or organise themselves) in an attempt to get physically and emotionally close to their attachment figure, with varying degrees of success.

There is however a type of insecure attachment that is so severe that children are unable to organise their behaviour or develop a defensive strategy to achieve proximity or security, and their distress remains heightened and unregulated. The parents of these children are often dangerous (abusive) or emotionally unreachable because of severe mental illness, and/or abuse of drugs and alcohol. If one parent is the abuser, the other fails to protect. Children are severely neglected and/or abused. Without an organised strategy children may freeze, either physically or psychologically. These children have an attachment disorder and are going to need a great deal of understanding and resilience by the foster carers or adopters, who have a full understanding of how their early life experiences have affected these children.

By definition therefore ALL children who are removed from their parents by a Court Order are going to have one type or another of insecure or anxious attachments with their mother or parents/step-parents. https://childprotectionresource.online/category/attachment-theory-2/

Posted in Attachment

AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT

This attachment pattern is sometimes referred to as dismissive. The mother (or parents) of these babies are often rejecting and controlling. If the baby cries it annoys or agitates the parents, and they lack sensitivity to the child, are unreliable and largely disinterested in the baby. These babies are often “prop fed” a bottle put into their mouth propped up by a towel (or something similar) while they are lying in the pram. The parents do not get any pleasure from the baby.

Hence at times when the baby is in need of comfort, care, protection, and this is manifested by crying, clinging, following, demanding, it actually brings the opposite reaction to what the child needs, in that the parents are rejecting or controlling.

The child’s strategy in this attachment pattern is often to minimise their needs and deny or not communicate their distress. Strong feelings are defensively excluded and emotional self-containment is established. This allows the child to stay in reasonable proximity to the attachment figure without causing him or her too much irritation, thus reducing the chances of being rejected. This strategy can be seen as the psychological defence of flight, rather than fight, e.g. a child may sit close to his mother, gradually moving nearer and if not rejected, attempting some kind of physical contact. Maybe they sit on the floor next to their mother’s chair, and then stand up and lean on the arm of the chair, and eventually chance getting into a mild form of physical contact e.g. putting their arm around their mother or laying their head on her arm. If they are not rejected they may try to sit on their mother’s lap and if the mother is not rejecting but not responsive either, the child will usually remain as long as possible.

These children are often described by foster carers and adopters as difficult to “reach” emotionally, “detached” “can’t make him out” “never know what he’s thinking” and in extreme cases, unable to show any affection other than very superficially. One adopter described her child as “fine on the outside, mostly pleasant and co-operative, but “hollow” – he has no middle.” Emotional self-containment was learned very early on in his life as a way of survival. https://childprotectionresource.online/category/attachment-theory-2/

Posted in Attachment

INSECURE/ANXIOUS ATTACHMENTS

These attachment patterns are broken down into Avoidant or Ambivalent attachments. Children who show these insecure attachment patterns have learned that there are conditions attached to their gaining proximity to their mother.

Interestingly these children develop appropriate strategies that a) increase the mother’s emotional availability and do not cause her to withdraw and b) bring care and protection. These strategies are of course devised for survival and can be effective, but the feelings of anxiety and insecurity remain in relation to the mother.

However both secure and insecure attachment patterns represent efforts by children to ORGANISE their behaviour, to achieve some kind of proximity to their mother and with it a “felt security” – and when there is an insecure attachment pattern, these behaviours in children have varying degrees of success. https://childprotectionresource.online/category/attachment-theory-2/

Posted in Attachment

Attachments can be SECURE or INSECURE/ANXIOUS

A SECURE attachment pattern between baby and mother develops when the mother has an ability and willingness to try to understand behaviours and emotions from her baby’s point of view. She is attuned to his needs, e.g. responds to his crying by picking the baby up and soothing him, either by feeding, or changing him, or simply holding him. She learns to differentiate his cries, sometimes hunger, pain, boredom, tired etc and responds appropriately. She talks to the baby, maybe sings to him and smiles at him and as the baby grows she is rewarded by his response, in that he smiles back and they can engage in “conversation” e.g. the baby “coos” and laughs/gurgles in response to the mother’s attention and often tries to mimic her sounds. Within this attuned, coordinated relationship, the baby learns to regulate his own feelings and behaviours. The mother’s love is unconditional, and this provides the growing child with a sense of security and trust in his mother (often referred to as his attachment figure)

Babies can of course have secure attachment patterns with fathers, and other adults, so long as those adults are able to be emotionally available to the child (as outlined above) as well as physically present.

A secure attachment pattern will be a protective factor for the child throughout the lifespan. He will have learned that he is loved, effective, autonomous and competent and will have an expectation that other people will be available, co-operative and dependable, as he progresses through life. https://childprotectionresource.online/category/attachment-theory-2/