It is important to discuss attachment and relationships with respect to trauma because relationships can be the source of trauma and are also affected and disrupted by trauma. Our sense of self and the world is formed through our interactions with our parents, caregivers, teachers, friends and the larger community. These relationships, especially with care givers in our earliest months, have a profound effect on how our brain develops and what our mind will be preoccupied with. Our internalized experience of these interactions with our care givers will be the template that informs, often unconsciously, our relationships throughout life.
This is particularly true when we are young. Attachment or our experience of our early relationships have been studied and researched and determined to be very important. The types of relationships that are formed when we are young have been categorized as follows:
Secure attachment occurs when a caregiver is attentive to the needs of the child. The caregiver recognizes the child’s signals of hunger and other simple biological needs but also responds to emotional signals from the child for attention, a cuddle or soothing after an upset, like falling down when learning to walk. It’s not necessary that every need be met, but that most of the time the child has a growing sense that if he/she needs help, help will come.
Over the course of childhood this security allows the developing brain to build good connections, the child is able to learn to trust and therefore have a sense for developing trusting relationships.
Insecure attachment characterized by caregiver, who for whatever reasons are not able to consistently meet the needs of the child and/or behaves abusively toward the child. It is very much the case that no one sets out to harm their child. Most people want to be good, responsive caregivers however, a history of neglect and abuse in a person’s past, without support for change, makes it more likely that they will have difficulty being attuned to their children. This has an impact on normal brain development so much so that the child’s ability to regulate emotion, have a sense of their own body, ability to learn and to trust others can be seriously compromised.
A child with an insecure attachment history has a blueprint of relationships that may mix up the need for love and connection with feelings of fear and unease. So that in adulthood a person may find that abusive, dangerous or dismissing relationships seem predictable and normal.
What is hopeful about relationships and attachment is that everyone can benefit from a positive, caring, attuned relationship at any point, no matter their attachment history.
Click here for additional information on Sandra Bloom’s .
The Developing Mind, Dan Siegel
Parenting from the Inside Out, Dan Siegel
The Whole Brained Child, Dan Siegel
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