This is the first time I have encountered the literal text and process of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) Protocol by Mary B. Main (The Berkeley research for this interview also included Herman Hesse.). The site that hosts this information specifically requests that the material not be reproduced without permission of the author. Please click on this active link and take a look for yourself if you have any curiosity at all about how anyone could accurately measure secure or insecure attachment in adults.
As I read this protocol and try to imagine how I would respond to these questions in an Attachment Interview I can immediately see what a terrible scrambled up mess my own narrative-story of my childhood (and adulthood!) would be! I suspect the same reaction would be true for any other severe infant-childhood trauma and abuse survivor.
It’s worth the time to clock on the links above just to confirm for yourself – were your earliest experiences calm and soothing and happy – or not? As I understand it, nobody can fake their responses to the questions such an interviewer would use from this protocol. For all the marvelous information this interview can provide us about our adult attachment patterns, unfortunately for the lay public access to a certified interviewer is all but impossible to achieve. We certainly will never find a therapist who could guide us through the healing of our responses to the questions posed in this protocol, either.
Instead of wading around in and drowning in the sloppy mess of a field that ‘mental illness treatment’ has become, how much more efficient, accurate and effective it would be for all severe early abuse survivors to be given access to our ATTACHMENT history and patterns coupled with therapy about the TRUTH of our lives rather than be given any other diagnosis.
We MUST understand that it isn’t any specific ACTUAL memory that we might recall during the AAI that matters. What matters is HOW we tell our story not the WHAT our story is about.
I think about driving at night with my headlights on. While I am driving I cannot see the actual headlamps — the source of the light. Our earliest experiences operate within us in a similar way.
What happened to us conception to primarily age one in terms of our interactions with our primary caregivers MATTERS MOST. Either we had safe and secure attachment patterns with them as we needed to form our earliest body-brain correctly or we did not.
From conception to age three in fact builds the most important parts of who we are IN OUR PHYSIOLOGY — and THESE attachment experiences that lead us through our most critical brain-body stages of development determine the HOW of telling our story. This interview measures that HOW though we will seldom have conscious memory of these experiences that built us.
Patricia M. Crittenden (2005)
“Attachment theory is the newest major theory of adaptive and maladaptive functioning, but, in the roughly 50 years since its initial formulation by Bowlby (1969/1982, 1973, 1980), it has attracted a great deal of attention and many variants. The approach discussed here is the dynamic-maturational model (DMM) of attachment theory. In the DMM, attachment is a theory about protection from danger and the need to find a reproductive partner (Crittenden, 1995).
As a developmental theory, it is concerned about the interactive effects of genetic inheritance with maturational processes and person-specific experience to produce individual differences in strategies for protecting the self and progeny and for seeking a reproductive partner. These strategies, i.e., the patterns of attachment, provide both a description of interpersonal behavior and also a functional system for diagnosing psychopathology. It is unlike other theories of psychopathology in that its perspective began with infancy studies and progressed forward developmentally, rather than beginning in adult disorder and attempting to reconstruct the developmental precursors of disorder.
As a theory of psychopathology, it is concerned with the effects of exposure to danger and failure to find a satisfying reproductive relationship on psychological and behavioral functioning. Attachment theory is not, however, a theory of treatment. Instead, the dynamic-maturational model of attachment theory can help to redefine the problem, offer new methods of assessment, and suggest when and with whom to use the various existing tools for psychological change.”