Disorganized attachment

What is a disorganized attachment?

This attachment style is a combination of the anxious and avoidant attachment, also referred to as fearful. Individuals having this type have a low self esteem and negative perception of others.

This is viewed as the most extreme of the attachments due to the complexity of how it is formed. The presence of abuse(verbal, sexual,physical) and neglect makes the child experiencing it unable to trust its caregivers. The child in this case may reach out for care and support then quickly withdraw as if realizing that their need will be unmet.

As teenagers, they are observed to be socially inept, having a hard time interacting with their peers, often loners or singled out as troublemakers. There is a tendency to have outbursts due to the underdeveloped self-regulation mechanism.

People having this attachment style have a likelihood of developing mental health problems, engaging in self destructive behavior as a way to self-regulate.

How does it come about?

In the event of a traumatic event that is not well circumvented, abuse of the child or a violent environment where the caregivers are constantly fighting and hurting those within and outside the home. The child quickly recognizes that their needs will be unmet and develops trust issues from that point on. They are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In platonic and romantic relationships, these individuals will seek out closeness and intimacy then withdraw out of fear and mistrust of their friends or partners. They desire to love and be loved, but fear letting people in.

There is a tendency to pick fights and see problems even where they don’t exist- this is due to the hypervigilant nature of this attachment. Some individuals may beat their partners and claim to love and care for them.

As parents, there is a tendency to seek closeness with their children then withdraw it almost immediately. They tend toward being very abusive, if the child cries or throws a tantrum, it is met by a barrage of insults and maybe a slap or two as a way to shut them up. The reaction is due to being overwhelmed by their own intense emotions and unmet needs.

In workplaces, they tend to prefer working on their own, but may experience anxiety in the face of criticism often becoming defensive. They may begin to think (believe) that the employer is out to get them,even when he is not.

What can I do if I have this attachment?

  • Acknowledge any childhood abuse,violence or trauma that is unhealed.
  • Understand that your reactions are unconscious fears of abandonment.
  • Be gentle and kind with yourself in light of this revelation. It took you years to get where you are, it won’t take a day to undo everything – one step at a time.
  • Seek professional help. That will help you come up with better ways of coping with stressful situations
  • As you work on your healing, find people that you trust to walk the journey with.
  • Recognize and acknowledge where you have hurt others unknowingly

Photo credits: Google

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