Attachments: Disorganized Attachment

We hope you’ve been learning from this series on Attachment styles, which we will conclude with this post on the Disorganized Attachment Style. This most extreme behavioral style stems from the most dysfunctional upbringing.

Parents who generate a Disorganized Attachment Style in a child may be abusive, or may have learned from the fear in their own childhood. This perpetuates the cycle, as the child experiences the parents’ behavior as fearful or threatening. The child learns fear and rejection from the very people upon whom who she is dependent for survivial. The child may become detached from her own feelings and thoughts as she does not know where to turn for safety – fear with no resolution.

This can lead to dissociation or fragmentation in its most severe form.

aggression-487274_640The parents may in turn react to the Disorganized child with fear, as the child may act out or show unpredictable behavior, and this creates more of the same fearful energy between family members.

A Disorganized child may grow into an adult who is at high risk for substance abuse, lack of social empathy or remorse, and thus social and moral issues that may lead to criminal behavior. The adult may continue the family’s cycle of abuse, neglect and chaos.

Disorganized adults may have never learned healthy ways to relate to other people. They may not have learned how to regulate and self-manage their emotions; they can be hostile and aggressive as a defense. Because as the child learned that the most important relationships were not to be trusted, the adult struggles with even casual friendships.

However, there most certainly is hope for these Disorganized Attachment Style individuals. Therapy can be very effective in teaching relationship skills, ways to understand and control the emotions, and approaches to release and heal grief and rage. Parents at risk can participate in family therapies designed to stop the cycle of fear and abuse.

As we’ve learned from this series of writings on Attachment Styles, each of the four styles (Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent, and Disorganized) has distinct characteristics that affect relationships, with Secure being the most positive in nature, and Disorganized being the most dysfunctional. Soul Wisdom Therapy therapists can teach the tools necessary to live a healthy, happy and fully functional life.

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