The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Life

The attachment theory argues that a strong emotional and physical bond with one primary caregiver in our first years of life is critical to our development. If our bonding is strong and we are securely attached, we feel safe to explore the world. We know there is always that safe base to which we can return at any time. 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 with 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 three types of insecure attachments: Anxious/Ambivalent, Anxious/Avoidant, and Anxious/Disorganized. In response to distress, the first three react in an organized manner, while the last acts in a disorganized manner.

To understand the theory better, let’s look at Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who have four children: Luka, Ann, Joe, and Amy. The Smiths are loving 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 spends all day working while at the same time trying to care for her children. An impossible task.

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