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

THE NEUROSCIENCE OF ATTACHMENT

If the parenting style of the parent is Dismissive: the parent is indifferent, distant, neglectful, absent, rejecting, shaming, blaming, critical, judgmental, physically-emotionally unavailable, ineffective in regulating affect –

Then the attachment style that develops in the child is likely to be Insecure-Avoidant: the child withdraws from interactions, is seemingly indifferent to parent; the child doesn’t seek or expect comfort or soothing; there is a defensive exclusion of affects (numbing out); there is a focus on self or world, not other.

Insecurely-avoidant children are likely to become Insecure-Avoidant adults: emotionally shut down; devaluing relationships and feelings; uncomfortable with intimacy, vulnerability, dependency. There is difficulty trusting; they can be aggressive or hostile.

If the parenting style of the parent is Pre-occupied: inconsistent, unpredictable, sometimes attentive and loving, sometimes harsh or punitive, sometimes over-involved, sometimes off in their own world –

Then the attachment style that develops in the child is likely to be Insecure-Anxious: the child is snsecure about the reliability of the parent for safety-protection; they are not easily soothed; ambivalence: they are sometimes clingy and possessive, sometimes angry-defiant. There is an internalization of anxious mom. There is a focus on others, not on self.

Insecurely-anxious children are likely to become Insecure-Anxious adults: they are subject to abandonment fears; there is chronic vigilance about attachment-separation, there is emotional dysregulation and anxiety, passivity and lack of coping; there can be a victim stance.

If the parenting style of the parent becomes Disorganized: if the parent, even temporarily, is fragmented, disorganized, dissociated; or is frightening, bizarre, abusive, traumatizing to the child –

Then the attachment style of the child can become Disorganized: the child can become, even temporarily, helpless, paralyzed, fragmented, chaotic dissociated; they cannot focus; they cannot soothe.

Experiences of disorganized attachment can lead to an Unresolved/Disorganized adult: there are difficulties functioning; they are unable to regulate emotions; there are dissociative defenses.

What’s happening in the brain as these attachment styles operate in adult life? Continue reading “THE NEUROSCIENCE OF ATTACHMENT”

Posted in Alienation, Attachment

The Attachment Theory Test

If you’re interested in learning about your attachment style, there are many tests, scales, and questionnaires out available for you to take.

Feeny, Noller, and Hanrahan developed the Original Attachment Three-Category Measure in 1987 to test respondents’ adult attachment style. It contains only three items and is very simple, but it can still give you a good idea of which category you fall into: avoidant, anxious/ambivalent, or secure. You can complete the measure yourself or read more about it on page 3 of this PDF.

Bartholomew and Horowitz’s Relationships Questionnaire added to The Three-Category Measure by expanding it to include the dismissive-avoidant category. You can find it on the same PDF as the Three-Category Measure, starting on page 3.

Fraley, Waller, and Brennan’s Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire-Revised (ECR-R) is a 32-item questionnaire that gives results measured by two subscales related to attachment: avoidance and anxiety (Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000). Items are rated on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). You can find this questionnaire on the final three pages of the PDF mentioned above.

In addition to these scales, there are several less rigorous attachment style tests that can help you learn about your own style of connecting with others. These aren’t instruments often used in empirical research, but they can be helpful tools for learning more about yourself and your attachment style.

Diane Poole Heller developed an Attachment Styles Test, which contains 45 items rated on a three-point scale from “Rarely/Never” to “Usually/Often.” You can find it here, although after completing it you must enter an email to receive your results.

The Relationship Attachment Style Test is a 50-item test hosted on Psychology Today’s website. It covers the four attachment types noted earlier (Secure, Anxious-Ambivalent, Dismissive-Avoidant, Fearful-Avoidant) as well as Dependent and Codependent attachment styles. If you are interested in taking this test, you can find it at this link. However, be aware that while you receive a free “snapshot report” at the end, you will need to pay $6.95 to see your full results. Continue reading “The Attachment Theory Test”

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

Attachment Theory in Grief and Trauma

Speaking of unfortunate situations, attachment theory also has applications in the understanding of the grief and trauma associated with loss.

Although you may be most familiar with Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, they were preceded by Bowlby’s Four Stages. During Bowlby’s work on attachment, he and his colleague Colin Murray Parkes noticed four stages of grief:

  1. Shock and Numbness: In this initial phase, the bereaved may feel that the loss is not real, or that it is simply impossible to accept. He or she may experience physical distress and will be unable to understand and communicate his or her emotions.
  2. Yearning and Searching: In this phase, the bereaved is very aware of the void in his or her life and may try to fill that void with something or someone else. He or she still identifies strongly and may be preoccupied with the deceased.
  3. Despair and Disorganization: The bereaved now accepts that things have changed and cannot go back to the way they were before. He or she may also experience despair, hopelessness, and anger, as well as questioning and an intense focus on making sense of the situation. He or she might withdraw from others in this phase.
  4. Reorganization and Recovery: In the final phase, the bereaved person’s faith in life may start to come back. He or she will start to rebuild and establish new goals, new patterns, and new habits in life. The bereaved will begin to trust again, and grief will recede to the back of his or her mind instead of staying front and center (Williams & Haley, 2017).

Of course, one’s attachment style will influence how grief is experienced as well. For example, someone who is secure may move through the stages fairly quickly or skip some altogether, while someone who is anxious or avoidant may get stuck on one of the stages.

We all experience grief differently, but viewing these experiences through the lens of attachment theory can bring new perspective and insight into our unique grieving processes and why some of us get “stuck” after a loss. Continue reading “Attachment Theory in Grief and Trauma”

Posted in Alienation, Attachment

What part of the brain controls attachment?

Neurobiological research on animals suggests that trauma during attachment is processed differently by the brain, with maternal presence dramatically attenuating the fear center of the brain (amygdala).
Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Attachment, Parental Alienation PA

What part of the brain does decision making?

Brain’s DecisionMaking Spot Found

Damage to the brain’s frontal lobe is known to impair one’s ability to think and make choices. And now scientists say they’ve pinpointed the different parts of this brain region that preside over reasoning, self-control and decisionmaking.

Decision-Making and Control in the Brain | Live Science

 

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

How is brain development influenced by attachment?

First, attachment ensures the infant remain in the proximity of the caregiver to procure resources for survival and protection. Second, attachment “quality programs” the brain. This programming impacts immediate behaviors, as well as behaviors that emerge later in development.

We have known for decades that childhood experiences interact with genetics to change the structure of the brain and cause behavioral change. These early life experiences can dramatically alter the number of specialized communication cells within the brain (neurons), and these experiences can then increase or decrease the complexity of the neurons (dendritic branches) and the number of communication sites between them (synapses). The effects of this experience-based sculpting of the brain have profound effects on how the brain functions. In particular, they can determine how emotional centers of the brain communicate with the cortex and its higher functioning to determine our personality, our choices, and how we approach the world. This flexible, experience-based tuning of the brain’s development enables many parenting styles and relationships to produce children who grow into productive, law-abiding citizens that contribute to society. Aberrant experiences, including abuse and neglect from the caregiver, however, can hijack this experience-based system, leading to emotional and cognitive deficits and a view of the world as a dangerous place. These early life traumas go beyond the normal programming of the brain and initiate a pathway to pathology, which can often have a delayed expression until the child approaches periadolescence. Since early life abuse can be associated with brain damage from prenatal and postnatal (that is, via lactation) drug and alcohol abuse, the effects of child abuse can be comorbid with additional difficulties. Decades ago, we attributed these deficits to psychological problems as though there was no physical manifestation of the problems, but we now know better—the structure and functioning of the brain contribute to these behavioral traits. This Article reviews the child abuse and neglect neuroscience literature presented within the framework of attachment, because most abuse is from the caregiver. Attachment has two basic functions: (1) Attachment ensures the child remain in proximity of the caregiver, and (2) attachment programs the lifelong structure and function of the brain. Importantly, within this framework the effects of early life abuse can be expressed differently at different ages, with short- and long-term effects showing distinct patterns and the most dramatic effects delayed until later life.

Furthermore, children tolerate considerable abuse while remaining strongly attached to an abusive caretaker. It appears that selection pressure and evolution have produced an attachment system that ensures the infant attaches to the caregiver regardless of the quality of caregiving received.

It is thought that the chronic stress of chaotic homes, divorce, abuse, and other stressors produce prolonged stress responses that are particularly damaging to children. One mechanism that can reduce stress hormone release is social buffering, whereby an attachment figure (or, at later stages of development, a trusted partner) can greatly attenuate the release of stress hormones. Indeed, the attachment figure is a strong social buffering stimulus in children, although this system appears compromised in some abused children. Social buffering can protect a child from the damaging effects of stress. The role of the attachment figure as a regulator of the child’s stress response for social buffering is related to the role of the mother as a “hidden regulator” of physiological functions discussed in Part II.

The Neurobiology of Attachment to Nurturing and Abusive Caregivers

 

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

What are the factors affecting attachment?

Income and family size, parental age and education, major stressful events, such as loss of a parent, birth of a sibling, severe illness, marital relationships and breakdown affect the quality of attachment relationships [13-19]. Continue reading “What are the factors affecting attachment?”

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

What are the 4 types of attachment?

The four child/adult attachment styles are:
  • Secure – autonomous;
  • Avoidant – dismissing;
  • Anxious – preoccupied; and.
  • Disorganized – unresolved.

Adults with these attachment styles differ in a number of significant ways:

  • how they perceive and deal with closeness and emotional intimacy.
  • ability to communicate their emotions and needs, and listen to and understand the emotions and needs of their partners.
  • modes of responding to conflict.
  • expectations about their partner and the relationship (internal working models).

There are three primary, underlying dimensions that characterize attachment styles and patterns. The first dimension is closeness, meaning the extent to which people feel comfortable being emotionally close and intimate with others. The second is dependence/avoidance, or the extent to which people feel comfortable depending on others and having partners depend on them. The third is anxiety, or the extent to which people worry their partners will abandon and reject them.

Four styles of adult attachment – Evergreen Psychotherapy Center

 

Posted in Alienation, Attachment

“Attachment trauma and the effects of neglect and abuse on the brain“.

Dr. Allan Schore discusses “Attachment trauma and the effects of neglect and abuse on the brain“.

The development of severe Psychopathologies occurs during right Brain development, during very early childhood. Attachment Trauma and Abandonment Trauma are all stored in the right hemisphere of the Brain, even before the left hemisphere starts to develop.

That is why Brain Scans of Narcissists, Borderlines and Psychopaths show differences from the general population. Because of Attachment Trauma and Abandonment Trauma, the brains of those with Severe Psychopathologies are unable to to wire themselves normally. It is not nature. It is nurture and the severe lack of nurture which plays a major role in creating those with severe Personality Disorders.

Posted in Alienation, Attachment

Assessing Attachment – Tips

Individuals with dismissive or detached attachment styles tend to idealise or minimise
early difficulties; individuals with anxious avoidant/ambivalent attachment styles tend to be overwhelmed by their early adverse experiences with strong emotional responses in interview. Both styles indicate poor reflective functioning (capacity to think clearly).

• Do not accept the first response, but be prepared to probe a little for more qualitative information.
• Do not impose your own view of abuse and its consequences; you are interested in the individual’s personal experience as it was at the time, and how they might view it now with the benefit of hindsight.
• Thoughts and feelings are probably more important than the ‘facts’.
• Don’t forget resilience and buffers. Look for good attachments (grandparents
or teachers?), positive traits (intelligence or prowess at sport), appropriate anxieties about behaviour.
• Identify specific relationship difficulties and how they might differ in different situations – perhaps in dating relationships as compared to wider social
relationships. Continue reading “Assessing Attachment – Tips”