One important point to realize about insecure attachment disorders is that in effect, our on-off switch governing our human relationships is not set right, or is nearly broken completely. We rarely, if ever, truly feel safe, secure and connected to others. This leaves us feeling pain and anxiety much of the time (Yes, we feel that Substance P).
A securely attached person does not have their attachment system ON all of the time. It will turn on and off appropriately. If an attachment system cannot turn itself on and off correctly, none of the other systems will work correctly, either (exploration, caregiving, sexuality).
In our ‘modern era’ humans seem tempted to believe we are above the rules and laws of nature. We are not, and if enough of these rules and laws are breached early enough in our development, the ensuing trajectory of all our future development will be sent off into an unhealthy, survival-only-based for the short term, direction.
Our species has evolved over millions of years in such a way that there is a narrow margin for what is most needed for our best development. As we change how we raise our children from an extended family, tribal and community base, we are placing ourselves and our children at ever increasing risk for suffering from insecure attachment disorders with all their accompanying disruptions for the life span.
What happened to my mother and my father in their earliest beginnings set in motion a chain of predictable consequences that culminated in the 18-year torturous childhood I endured. They both had insecure attachment early histories with resulting insecure attachment disorders. Those disorders let the dark rather than the sunshine in to my childhood.
There is nothing easy about writing this post. I am tempted to offer a blanket apology for the disarrayed information I am going to post links for you today. What I WANT is polished, completed perfection. What I WANT to present to you would look like the information contained in my October 1, 2009 post +CHILDHOOD DISSOCIATION, DEPERSONALIZATION, DEREALIZATION – I NEVER HAD A CHOICE TO BE OR NOT TO BE about the symptoms of childhood dissociation.
I was envious of those few succinct and perfectly chosen words that presented that information on Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Dissociative Symptoms in Children and Adolescents written by someone for the International Society for the Study of Dissociation. Then I realized that these concepts were probably part of what could be called a White Paper. They were no doubt an accumulation of multiple minds working on a problem that needed a solution, and what is presented is the result of a combined effort.
I had some friends when I lived in northern Minnesota who owned 40 acres of sugar maple trees. Every spring when the sap began to run their entire family would participate in tapping the trees, collecting the sap, and boiling it down in huge vats until it turned into maple syrup. It took 60 gallons of sap to create one gallon of syrup.
Thinking about secure and insecure attachment feels like a similar process to me. I can’t begin to imagine the brilliant genius of the minds of the specialists who discover facts and write about the topic. What I am presenting today is still — only — a collection of their words as I try to gather enough information, and go over it enough times, that I might begin to glimpse the critical significance of their work.
Because the experiences of abuse and trauma I endured during the 18 years of my childhood were so extreme, my search of the ‘ordinary’ literature on ‘dysfunctional’ childhoods did not begin to answer my questions about what happened to me and why. These links I present today contain what I KNOW is critical information about what put both of my parents at risk for turning into monsters.
In order to begin to understand the life of a tree I would not simply study the tip of the topmost and outermost branches. To understand the bigger picture I would have to study the whole tree, down to the deepest roots that keep it standing in the sky. I am not content to rely simply on such terms as ‘mental illness’ or ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ to describe what I might be able to learn about my mother. I am not content to simply label my father ‘an enabler’. Who my parents were, why and how they operated the way that they did toward me, I will never actually know.
Attachment research gives me the clearest and most correct platform I have ever found from which I can begin to understand — and therefore begin to apply informed compassion — to the criminal actions my parents took against me. It also helps me to understand the most important consequences caused by their actions toward me, and helps me learn how to transform them.
Even a quick but dedicated quick scanning of the words contained in the following links will have the capacity to change how you look at yourself, your parents, your relationships. These words are about how early caregiver interactions — good and bad — form the brain-mind. It is from the foundation of these early beginnings that all future development of an individual arises, in the same way that all the future growth of a tree begins with the cracking of a fertile seed and the growth down of roots and up of its trunk and branches.
The very bare-bones layout of the information in the links covers the difference between secure attachment (about 55% of our population) and insecure attachment (the other 45%). Most researchers use one set of words to describe the insecure attachment disorder in infants and another for adults related to the exact same patterns. I see no reason to do this. What exists in infancy as a disordered attachment remains for a lifetime unless some specific interventions and applied efforts are made toward trying to change the hard-wiring of the infant brain as it was built in the first place so that it becomes more ‘secure’ later in life.
There are breakdowns within the category of insecure attachment that cover what happens to the 45% of people who have less than an optimal early caregiver brain building interaction period in their infancy. My guesstimate is that about one-third of this 45% fit into each of the following three main categories.
— There are two ‘organized’ insecure attachment disorders/patterns/systems = Avoidant-Dismissive Insecure Attachment and Preoccupied-Ambivalent Insecure Attachment. The important word here is ORGANIZED, which is in contrast to the third insecure attachment disorder which is NOT organized.
— This is the disorganized insecure attachment disorder/pattern/system known as the – Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment. Serious dissociation occurs within this group as well as many of the more serious so-called mental illnesses.
There are at least two other attachment categories that may or may not be recognized in the future as having enough merit on their own to remain distinguished from any of the above categories. They are the ‘earned secure attachment‘ and the ‘cannot classify insecure attachment‘ groupings.
I hope that readers will find something useful in these links. I am a long, long way from coming up with my own version of a simple, clear and succinct ‘white’ paper. What appears in italics in these links are my own words as I processed these technical writings as I read them.
The main references you will find in these links are as follows as they match my codes for citation page numbers (you will also occasionally find a page number inserted in the middle of some paragraphs to note where in a sentence the page number changed):
Siegel/tdm = The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience by Daniel J. Siegel
Schore/ad = Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self by Allan N. Schore
Schore/ar = Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development by Allan N. Schore
These writings contain many unfamiliar words. If you are scanning only, skip them. Or, do a quick Google search using “Webster define _____.”
I believe that the more traumatic a reader’s childhood was, the more they will benefit from gaining an understanding of this information. It will improve understanding on a more profound level about what happened to their own self development and the development of their early caregivers. (I need to specify here that I can make no assumptions about how sexual abuse fits into the picture of secure and insecure attachments. That is not a part of my story, and I cannot and do not make any statements about it.)
- *Attachment Simplified – Our Infant Attachment Systems Organize our Brain-Body-Mind-Self
- *Attachment Simplified – Secure Attachment (Organized)
- *Attachment Simplified – Organized Insecure Attachment – Avoidant-Dismissive
- *Attachment Simplified – Organized Insecure Attachment – Preoccupied-Ambivalent
- *Attachment Simplified – Disorganized Insecure Attachment – Disorganized-Disoriented
- *Attachment Simplified – Organized Secure Attachment – Earned Secure
- *Attachment Simplified – Disorganized Insecure Attachment – Cannot Classify
- *Attachment Simplified – Attachments in Therapy
- *Attachment Simplified – The More Complicated Yet CRITICAL Information
- *Attachment Simplified – Still More Complicated Information Including ‘Feeling Felt’ and ‘Healing in Solitude’