The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Life

The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Life

The attachment theory argues that a strong emotional and physical bond to one primary caregiver in our first years of life, is critical to our development. If our bonding is strong and we are securely attached, then we feel safe to explore the world. We know there is always that safe base, to which we can return to anytime. If our bond is weak, we feel insecurely attached. We are afraid to leave or explore a rather
scary-looking world. Because we are not sure if we can return. People who are securely attached are said to have greater trust, can connect to others and as a result are more successful in life. Insecurely attached people tend to mistrust others, lack social skills and have problems forming relationships. There is one type of secure attachment and there are 3 types of insecure attachments: Anxious/Ambivalent Anxious/Avoidant and Anxious/Disorganized. In responses to distress, the first 3 react organized, while the last acts disorganized. To understand the theory better, let’s look at
Mr and Ms Smith, who have 4 children. Luka, Ann, Joe and Amy. The Smiths are lovely parents, who cuddle, make frequent eye contact,
speak warmly, and are always there for their kids. But one day Mr Smith falls very sick and dies. For Mrs Smith life now becomes very difficult. She spend all day working, while at the same time trying to care for her children. And impossible task. At 6 years of age, Luka’s brain is for the most part developed, his character strong and his world view shaped. The new situation does not affect him much – he knows there still is always mom – his safe-haven. He feels securely attached. Later he turns into a trusting and optimistic
young man. His self image is positive. Ann, who is 3, has problems coping with the
new lack of attention. To Ann, her mother now acts unpredictably. She is anxious about their relationship, and as a result becomes clingy. To get her mom’s attention, she has to raise her emotional state and scream. When her mom finally reacts with a predictable response, she herself acts ambivalent and doesn’t show her true feelings. Later in life, others think Ann is unpredictable
or moody. Her self image is less positive. Her attachment style Anxious Ambivalent. 2-year old Joe, spends his days with his uncle, who loves him, but thinks that a good education means being strict. If little Joe shows too much emotions or is too loud, his Uncle gets angry and sometimes punitive. This scares Joe. He learns that to avoid fear, he has to avoid showing his feelings – also in other situations. As an adult he continues this strategy and has problems to enter relationships. His image of himself is rather negative. His attachment is: Anxious Avoidant Amy, who is just one year old, gets sent to a nursery. The staff there is poorly trained, overworked and often very stressed. Some are outright abusive. Amy therefore becomes anxious of the very people she seeks security from – a conflict which totally disorganizes her ideas about love and safety. As she is experiencing fear without resolution, she tries to avoid all social situations. As an adult she thinks of herself as unworthy of love. Her self image is very negative. He attachment is anxious disorganized Our attachment is formed in the very first
years of our lives, a time when we are too young to communicate
our anxiety and as a result can experience high levels of stress. Then our adrenal gland – an organ sitting on top of our kidneys – produces the stress-hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The heart rate increases, the blood pressure goes up and we become alert. If that happens frequently, it is called toxic stress. Toxic, because it impairs the development
of a child’s brain, and weakens the immune system. In embryos or at a very young age, toxic stress can even switch the expressions of genes, which can affect our health many decades later. By simulating a Strange Situation, we can assess an attachment style, already by the age of one. To do this, we let the child play with their
mothers for a few minutes inside a room. Then the child is left alone. The key moment is the child’s reaction when
her mother returns. Securely attached children first usually hug
their mother, then can calm down and eventually get back to playing. Insecurely attached children can be
ambivalent and avoidant. Some can’t stop crying or refuse to continue playing. The long term effects of our attachment in the early years, are well documented. Using the theory, researchers at Minnesota University were able to predict already at age 3, if a child would dropout of high school with 77% accuracy. In another study, undergraduates at Harvard were asked to assess how close they felt to their parents. 35 years later they were ask about their health. 91% of those who said they had a rather broken
relationship with their mother, were also diagnosed with health issues, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, and alcoholism. For those that had reported a warm relationship, the figure of poor health diagnosis was just 45%. But there is another reason
why the early years deserve special attention. They are the starting place for subsequent
behaviors. A kid that feels securely attached at age 2, can make friends at kindergarten. Their worldview gets reinforced with every interaction and they develop optimism. As a result they make good relationships at school, then at colleague and later at work. Highly insecurely attached children can miss out on this opportunity. Psychologist John Bowlby, a pioneer in attachment theory, allegedly said, “What cannot be communicated to the mother, cannot be communicated to the self.” In other words: those who feel insecurely attached, might not quite understand themselves. To get to know who they are and what they feel, they might have to go way back in time.


  1. I got a question:

    Is it possible to be one of the three insecure types if we didn't lost our parents orsomething like that? When I was three my big sister (5 years old at the time) got really sick and sent to hospital. She did a coma and my parents stayed with her for all the month and I got sendt to my granny's and couldn't see my sis and my parents… when they came back they seemed more and faster annoyed by me now I have a lot of ochlophobia, agoraphobia and disphoria. I hide a lot my feelings from everyone but still very attached to anyone of my family or friends… Could it be related?
    (Sorry to bother and for the bad english btw)

  2. Well, this explains why I'm Avoidant & my sister is Ambivalent. Interesting. I always wondered how we could have the same parents, but be so different in how we deal with relationships

  3. So are you tellimg me I'm already screwed and I won't be able to have friends and I'll have a miserable life when I'm not even done with high school?

  4. I'm not quite sure what I am here. my mom died when I was 7 and while my dad gave his all he also became more strict and stopped trusting me as much, which resulted in me trusting him less. I'd like to think I have a good attachment but I have pretty bad anxiety and not a great view of myself. I'm hopeful that I can succeed despite this. I'm pretty smart so I have hopes of getting into college, getting a good job, and hopefully finding a partner at some point but I have a feeling it will be difficult.

  5. This is why i want stay home the first 4 years with my child I don’t want them to go to Daycare it’s really bad in that place

  6. This is really true, a bond between parents and children is critical to the development of the children. it does create a bright future for their life.

  7. Can you be all three of the insecure attachments. Cuz Um yeah. Anyway I also am very disorganized or the total opposite depending on the place I’m in, but I actually have OCD so it’s usually one way or the other. Adding my ADHD my general anxiety and bipolar 1 to the mix doesn’t help much…. but I have and have had all these problems and effects from these three different insecure attachment qualities…. so I’m quite sure you can have all three depending on your environment, how you grow up, how you were treated and how isolated you were and much much more. Also don’t forget how much some parents will blame there kids for stuff they’ve done daily. That really adds up.

  8. This is rubbish I never drank or took drugs and I am more over an avoidance person but not emotionally I can talk fluently but there isn’t enough people that know themselves deeply who want to discover either you or themselves so … it’s rather a dead end .

  9. This is elitist bs. It assumes single parents can not successfully raise children into well balanced adults, that those who are orphaned cannot bond, etc. etc. It is information like this that causes snobby, judgemental attitudes about people whose childhoods were beyond their control by assuming things that are simply untrue. Certainly, if you are a child, losing a parent is devastating, but it is the subsequent social attitudes and judgements–usually based on such theories–that say that a child's journey into adulthood is now flawed–or worse the child themselves is flawed. I believe, these attitudes often coming from other parents, teachers, psychologists, etc. create a greater sense of alienation in the long run–even after one has come to terms with losing a parent. Remember tragedy and the loss of loved ones was quite the normal 150+ years ago.

  10. “Researchers at Minnesota university”

    Marshall Eriksen: looks into camera and smiles with pen and notepad in his hands

  11. My husband was was anxious avoidant. He is the fourth oldest child of 12 children, and his dad is in the military so was constantly deployed and off on training. His mother spent all her time focusing on the younger children, and expected the oldest siblings to help the next oldest siblings. But older siblings didn’t want that, they wanted to do their own thing, so my husband ended up having to take care of himself. He had major trust issues and anger management problems, but he’s gotten so much better and we are the others key figure, the person we are attached too. We feel secure with each other and he has gotten much more open and trusting and has no more temper problems.

  12. Oh boy im definitely the avoidant type with strict parenting. But I'm working on it. My self image has been pretty great for the last couple years. These aren't death sentences.

  13. Is there any way to change your type? Once you become aware of what it is, and how it manifests in day to day life, that is.

  14. I grew up in an alcoholic, very abusive & very VERY neglectful home. And was subsequently the "weird" kid at school who never talked & hid as much as possible. I got bullied really bad because of that. I'm an adult now & live alone & still to this day would rather hang w/ my pets than risk being w/ any person. My middle sister continued the cycle of abuse & was shot & killed by her boyfriend. Pls people, if you know of a withdrawn child at school, or a socially awkward person at work, etc., pls think of the possible home life they have had. And maybe show alil kindness or understanding. Or at the very least, don't single them out or bully them

  15. The teaching said a University in Minnesotta was able to predict. When saying so 77% was displayed during 49 mentioned with the duration of the teaching. Terrill TC!

  16. It’s scary how something you had no control over, like your parents, can affect your life. I was so used to violence, anger, and being talked down to that i only feel comfortable in relationships where i don’t know how the other feels about me or treats me badly. It’s like I feel happiest when I’m constantly working to earn love I’m never going to get. I recently started seeing someone that’s so kind and supportive that I can’t help but feel anxious and suspicious. “Why is he so nice? Why is he into me? Am I annoying? Am I ugly? What are his real intentions?” I’m constantly looking for something he must be after, as if it’s impossible for someone kind to be genuinely interested in me.

  17. Not all children follow an ideal model either, you can try and be the best possible parent/parents and your kids can go bad at any point in the journey, that's just how human nature rolls, nothing is perfect

  18. Well now. I just learned why I'm messed up and this attachment theory pretty much nails my path from when I was a baby to now. I didn't abuse drugs or alcohol but I did use something to cope and now as an adult, I'm paying with my poor health. This video was very helpful.

  19. i m not gonna blame my parents for this , its me who was incapable !
    Blaming someone for my life is just an escape

  20. The whole damn environment affects us growing up because I was secure at home but treated like shit at school. I grew up with anxiety and still have a hard time making friends and am a nobody to teachers.

  21. That explains a lot, it's a shame that my father really did what he thought was the best way of raising me, but it just made me insecure, avoidant and lonely. Thanks dad.

  22. Meditate and talk to your inner child. Go back in time energetically and tell him/her all the things you should have heard when you were little like what you know now as his/her future self. The inner child is still a part of you on every level. This process really helped me nurture and heal past wounds and I would recommend it to anyone anytime! Empower yourselves! Forgive and stay with/feel the emotions that come up and don't suppress it or it will stay suppressed! Courage is necessary when doing inner work. Believe me, there is a huge payoff!

  23. guess i need to time travle and try to understand myself better
    i'm 24 years old. growing up, not only did my parents not spend that much time with me, but at school i got stabbed in the back by those who i thought were my friends. that happened a lot of times and the last time was a few months back. because of that, my trust in others got shattered and i just can't believe others anymore who tell me would never stab me in the back and destroy the so called friendship we have. yes i still approach those people and talk with them. i show them that i care about them even though i'm scared to death of getting back stabbed again. the last time it did happened, destroyed the little hope and trust i had in other people, and i just realised that last week… because i noticed i was pushing everyone away from me. didn't talk with anyone, i stayed "offline" all the time so they didn't know i was on at all, and i ignored all texts and messages i got on my pc and phone. i didn't wanted to talk with anyone, even my boyfriend. after a couple of days my boyfriend finally asked what was up and that he was worried about me. he told me he noticed that i was pushing everyone away again and even hardly spoke with himself. i took a deep breath and just threw it all out even though i didn't wanted to talk about it at all. i don't want to bother anyone with my problems.. but when my boyfriend asks about it, i can't help but just tell him what's wrong. i only feel safe around him. to me my boyfriend is the person who i cry about when they are gone, and feel happy and safe again when he returns. and i mean litterly! i cried a few times only because he was gone for a few hours! my boyfriend became the very person who my parent's should've been from the beginning of my life! isn't that weird?! my boyfriend and i are 7 years together, and believe me when i tell you that the first 3 years wasn't the ideal relatioship you would think it was, but it became better and stronger over time. we live together and are planning to move to a bigger house to actually build our future and maybe have a little baby for ourselves. i'm still scared…

  24. In this attachment theory, aren't they exploring the possibility of "too much" attachment ? Like an oversecure one, a stiffling one

  25. I talk completely freely to my parents whole my life! I can say them anything and I always do that, and my friends don't understand how I am not afraid of judgement or anything by my parents. I just don't, I now they will understand me for everything, and even if they disagree they know they can't stop me from doing that. Our relationship function in the way that they will try to explain me why I shouldn't do something and what can happen to me if I do, and then I usually don't do bad things because it's my choice and I choose that way.

  26. I just don't like that squared 'scientific' point of view that "any relationship" is a good relationship and discredits individuality over collective consciousness and presumes the majority is right; the brute force of the numbers over quality, in other words. Still, nice to have in mind, thanks

  27. Doubt I will ever be able to form a healthy relationship with anybody. Parents do not interact with each other yet we all still live together. Dad is somewhat controlling, belittles me every chance he can get. Mom is an extreme helicopter parent. I have no siblings so nobody to talk to; I stopped trying to make deep connections with friends when I was in elementary school because we don't have much money so I have nothing really to offer. My social skills are horrible, I believe I might have Asperger's because I never knew social cues were a thing until I literally read about them last year, I can't even form lasting conversations with my own parents. I have adapted with my keen sense of humor though. Btw my BMI qualified for severe anorexia a couple of years ago. I am completely undesirable by all means, people like me from afar but when it comes down to it they would rather hang out with other ppl. Came to the conclusion that money is what will save me, going off to college next year wish me luck. If it helps I believe my mother formed a secure attachment with me in my early years of life. I have terrible anxiety btw I can't even speak up in class anymore without stuttering, I wasn't like this when I was younger even though I have always been an introvert. Thoughts?

  28. Seems to make good sense but where does it leave the single parent family, now so common, where all children inevitably risk insecure attachment unless the parent is self sufficient without needing to work

  29. My mum always u know be's very protective and doesn't let me go out ANYWHERE( ie I've never been out with friends before) yet she shouts at me for not going out when I'm not actually allowed to….

  30. This is why every couple or person expecting a baby should be required to take parenting classes, child psychology classes, and fulfill a certain amount of observation or volunteer hours at a school or nursery. We must do these things when acquiring a driver's license or a degree at school, and yet to raise a child we enforce zero knowledge on the subject.

  31. Incredibly interesting, but it left me with more questions than answers! All the same, I now have something new and fulfilling to read about instead of politics!

  32. Smart people attach to Jesus Christ, your soul doesn't belong to a human and relationship's are bonded and built through the mind of Christ,in order for a lasting union and a thriving one this is required ! Lust is a fail and a trap !

  33. This is why paid Maternity leave for AT LEAST 6 months is so important. Babies need their moms. And mommy’s need their babies. It’s literally for mental health. I don’t understand why is is proved over and over again and some people still think moms should be fine to go back to work 6 weeks or even sooner after birth.

  34. Social Services needs to know about this so they stop ripping kids from their parents and randomly dismantling countless families, so we can look forward to generations of future trauma victims, caused by their actions "in the best interests of the child".

  35. Am I the only one who had a good childhood until I became a preteen and that’s when everything went downhill ? Especially since the recession of 2008 started when I was a preteen. I feel like what I went through as a preteen and teenager still affects me in adulthood to the point I had to get therapy.

  36. I had a good childhood with a strong attachment to my parents, but I find myself constantly surrounded by people who have the opposite.

  37. I scared that when I grow up I won't be successful in the future because of the environment I am growing up in.

  38. my childhood was amazing. loving parents, good grades, trustworthy friends and there should be no problem. however, my brain can't produce enough chemicals to maintain happiness so if i act with ambient avoidance but my childhood was good, what does that mean?

  39. im little Joe + Amy.
    i spent my first 20 years with my father's family.
    i have no problems with my parents, but my aunties and uncles always punish me everytime i make them dissapointed even when i have done my best. and they always mocking me and my family as the unintended family.
    i know they love me (when i sicked they take care of me and they help my school), but until this age, i dont know how to show my feeling. and always avoid any social contacts as much as i can.

  40. I'm a very trusting person who also have many friends. The first 7 years I had good attachment until the twins were born, the attachment became little to none. Things are 100% better now but I have many issues both mental and physical.

  41. What if I am all these attachments at the same time, which I switch through every day even though I have a 6 member family, that is caring, strict, attentive, etc. I switch through shyness and being an extrovert on the flip of a dime?

  42. The oldest memory I have is about my father was when I was playing with my toys on the balcony and I looked inside my house and I saw a cat walking towards me, then my father appeared, caught the cat by its neck and threw him against the wall. The cat hit the ground dead, I can clearly remember the look at the cat's face, blood running through its mouth and ears, that was the only memory I have about my father. I was 3-4 years old, my father died when I was 5. I have a bad memory, for me to remember something I have to review it by over and over, but I'll never forget about it. Imagine your friends asking questions about your father, Where he's? Where does he work? Where is your father? What do you remember about him?

  43. An alternative title could be "how to blame your parents for everything that happens in your life"

    Ok ok, parents can be partially guilty (sometimes), but people, lets not forget our own responsability of our own acts

  44. Wtf… this is literally accurate. I have 3 brothers and I’m the only girl. I’m 2nd oldest too. My parents didn’t die though but they did get divorced while we were young. My older has a good gf and good income. He’s seen as the more prominent child out of us all. Me I didn’t really like attention as a kid and hate it as an adult but I am moody all the time and people think I’m just a grumpy person in general. I downgrade myself a lot too. My brother below me has problems opening up and keeping relationships too.

  45. My mom never hug me or tell me she loves me. My dad never teach me shit. Now, i feel like a complete waste of space

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