This theory promotes the biosocial and survival importance of the relationship between a primary caregiver and child in the first few years of that child’s life.  Attachment theorists have systematically categorized specific relational interactive patterns between caregiver and child (secure attachment, avoidant insecure attachment, ambivalent insecure attachment, and/or disorganized insecure attachment). These patterns will form templates for all other relationships throughout one’s lifetime and affect one’s growth, development, and well-being.

When caregivers repeatedly act frightening or frightened, children tend to develop a disorganized insecure form of attachment to their primary caregiver. This can lead to future risk for:

  • An inability to regulate emotions (may act-out, engage in self-harm/ substance abuse)
  • Permanent brain changes (labeled ADHD, Bipolar) &/or a multitude of other psychological, behavioral, and mental health problems (depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, juvenile delinquency…)
  • An inability to trust the world as a reasonably safe place or appropriately use others to get your needs met
  • Lacking resiliency to easily bounce back from subsequent stressors, difficult life situations, &/or trauma
  • Likelihood to be re-exposed to other traumas, form adult relationships with abusers or become violent and abusive oneself

Related link:
Attachment and Development