Personality development has been a major topic of interest for some of the most prominent thinkers in psychology. These theorists developed theories to describe various steps and stages that occur on the road of personality development. In the asses and asses, John Bowls, a British psychoanalyst developed the attachment theory to account for phenomena in personality development and psychopathology that were not well recognized or explained by other psychoanalytic theories.
Bowls ( 1982) and Insinuators (1978) defined an attachment as an enduring affective bond characterized by a indecency to seek and maintain proximity to a specific figure particularly when under stress. It is a long-lasting relationship, not a transient enjoyment of another’s company or seeking of assistance or comfort from another in the primary attachment. It is focused on the relationships and bonds between people, particularly long-term relationships including those between a parent and child or between romantic partners.
While the importance of attachments may be fairly stable from infancy to old age, the organization of attachment behavior and the nature of attachment relationships change with age. Based on research observations, psychologist Mary Insinuators described three major styles of attachment, the secure attachment, ambivalent/resistant insecure attachment, avoiding insecure attachment, and a fourth added by researchers Main and Solomon (1986) called the disorganized insecure attachment based upon their own research.
Studies have supported and indicated that Ingrowths attachment styles also have an impact on behaviors and personality development later in life. Securely attached children compromised of the majority of the sample in Ingrowths (1970). Such children feel confident that the attachment figure will be available to meet their needs. They use the attachment figure as a safe base to explore the environment and seek the attachment figure in times of distress.
According to Bowls (1980) an individual who has experienced a secure attachment is likely to possess a representational model of attachment figures as being available, responsive, and helpful. Studies have shown that securely attached children are more empathetic during later stages of childhood. These children are also described as less disruptive, less aggressive and more mature than children with ambivalent or avoiding attachment styles. As adults, those who are securely attached tend to have trusting, long-term relationships.
Other key characteristics of securely attached individuals include having high self-esteem, enjoying intimate relationships, seeking out social support, and an ability to share feelings with other people. Insecure avoiding children do not orientate to their attachment figure while investigating the environment. They are very independent of the attachment figure both physically and emotionally. They do not seek contact with the attachment figure when distressed.
Such children are likely to have a caregiver who is insensitive ND rejecting of their needs. The attachment figure may withdraw from helping during difficult tasks and is often unavailable during times of emotional distress. As adults, those with an avoiding attachment tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships. These individuals do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using excuses, or may fantasize about other people during sex.
Other common characteristics may include a failure to support partners during stressful times and an inability to share feelings, thoughts, and motions with partners. The third attachment style identified by Insinuators (1970) was insecure ambivalent also called insecure resistant. Here children adopt an ambivalent behavioral style towards the attachment figure. The child will commonly exhibit clingy and dependent behavior, but will be rejecting of the attachment figure when they engage in interaction.
The child fails to develop any feelings of security from the attachment figure. Accordingly they exhibit difficulty moving away from the attachment figure to explore novel surroundings. When distressed they are difficult to soothe and are not comforted by interaction tit the attachment figure. This behavior results from an inconsistent level of response to their needs from the primary caregiver. As adults, those with an ambivalent attachment style often feel reluctant about becoming close to others and worry that their partner does not reciprocate their feelings.
This leads to frequent breakups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These individuals feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship. Caddis and Berlin described another pathological pattern where ambivalently attached adults cling to young children as a source of security (1994). Main and Solomon (1986) proposed that inconsistent behavior on the part of parents might be a contributing factor in the disorganized insecure attachment. Children with this attachment style show a lack of clear attachment behavior.
Their actions and responses to caregivers are often a mix of behaviors, including avoidance or resistance. These children are described as displaying dazed behavior, sometimes seeming either confused or apprehensive in the presence of a caregiver. As adults, those with the disorganized insecure attachment often would not learn healthy ways to self soothe. They may have trouble socially or struggle in using others to co-regulate their emotions. It may be difficult for them to open up to others or to seek out help.
They often have difficulty trusting people, as they were unable to trust those they relied on for safety growing up. They may struggle in their relationships or friendships or when parenting their own children their social lives may further be affected, as people with secure attachments tend to get on better throughout their development. Children with secure attachment are often treated better than peers and even teachers at school. On the other hand those with disorganized attachment, because they struggle with poor social skills, may find it difficult to form and sustain solid relationships.
They often have difficulty managing stress and may even demonstrate hostile or aggressive behaviors. Because of their negative early life experiences, they may see the world as an unsafe place. The first studies of attachments in the college years and in adults found that secure attachment is associated with high ego-resiliency, high self-confidence and easy relations with peers. Compared to adults with resistant or avoiding attachment styles, secure adults find it easier to build relationships that are happy, friendly, trusting and long lasting.
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