To Attach or Not to Attach, That is the Question

In many eastern philosophies “attachment” is said to keep you miserable and bound to the material world. According to the Laws of Attraction, it’s said to be a key component in getting exactly the opposite of what you want.

Western psychology has its own ideas about attachment, which seem to have equally powerful effects on our adult lives. I’ve heard the term attachment theory for years, but was never quite sure what it meant.

Last week, I attended a Santa Barbara California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (SBCAMFT) luncheon. Nancy Gunzberg, a local psychotherapist, presented a talk entitled “Live in the Here and Now.” It was based on “attachment theory,” which was formulated in the last century by British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, John Bowlby. His theory was formulated post World War II, where there were many children separated from their families in Britian.

I believe this is some semblance of what Nancy said and it seems to make a lot of sense:

In order to feel connected, confident, secure, and open as adults (that is, to fully develop socially and emotionally), before the age of two, we need at least one emotionally responsive parent / caretaker.

Studies have shown that the baby is happy if the mother is happy. And conversely, if mother is not happy or non-existent, then baby picks up on that vibe and pays a big price. Baby is “frozen.” The disconnection she experiences feels unbearable. She learns to disassociate from her emotions, experiences pervasive loneliness, and feels unwanted and unsafe.

What does baby do? She finds a way to escape these feelings and emotions, adopting destructive behaviors and attitudes to cope and fill this fundamental rupture. As an adult her chances of having deep trusting relationships plummet. She carries this deep wound through life, never quite feeling a part of society, and hampered from that easy, breezy, life-is-good feeling.

That is such a slightly different way to look at us humans.

Well done on your presentation Nancy! It got me thinking!!!

It’s interesting to think of our own experience. Was your mother emotionally connected to you?

If your mom was and if she was happy, lucky you.

If not, and if you found someone along the way that you could trust (who gave you that experience of being emotionally responsive so you learned it was safe to be open), lucky you. If you are missing that feeling, you know what I’m talking about. The good news is that there is hope! Overtime, an excellent therapist can help restore this fundamental connection!

How has the concept of early attachment played out in your life and affected you as an adult? Let me know at: Facebook

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