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Occupy Yourself: Attachment Theory.

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posted on May, 11 2012 @ 08:55 PM

Hello ATS,

This is meant to be one of several threads that Eidolon23 and I intend to post over the next several weeks. The sentiment we hope to express in all of them will be the same: citizen empowerment through sharing better and better models of behavior and action in order to derive as much goodness and freedom for ourselves and our loved ones as possible.

For both Eidolon and I, this was neatly summed up by Douglas Rushkin in a tiny video called Douglas Rushkin In Real Life at 10:00 minutes or so, in reference to the Occupy movement, you can hear him say, : "The occupations themselves are little models…for us to then take their strategies and apply them in real life…now we occupy our towns…”.

…and in this thread in the series, we hope to empower you to begin to occupy yourself, so that, if you so desire, you may then occupy your relationships. We also believe that if we need a safety net from some societal fallout, we are going to have to weave it ourselves, and these threads are our way of trying to help out.

We have opted to use good old Maslow as our model of what is Good and why it is that we find it desirable to learn about attachment theory and occupy one’s self. Maslow’s Pyramid will be the basis for all of these missives to you. It is because we need to boot-strap ourselves to self-sufficiency and self-actualization. The idea is; if you find the information in these threads useful and you find it a little tough to make it happen; fake it till ya’ make it, practice makes perfect.

It is interesting to see how attachment theory blends itself in to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Bowlby surmised at first that the attachment behavioral system was an adaptation that helped humans to be successful at attaining Maslow’s first two needs, the bodily needs of food and a safe place to sleep as well as shelter and protection from threats.

But when we get in to the next three needs, their meanings are a little more nebulous; belonging, love self-esteem and ultimately, self-actualization. As ephemeral as these things may be compared to food and shelter, they are considered needs. Attachment Behavioral Systems, early and adult, seem designed to make sure we have the best access to the means of attaining these rarefied, emotional qualities. What that could possibly mean about adaptation and evolution is, I hope, a topic that can be explored on this thread.

Attachment Theory

John Bowlby, the person acknowledged as the creator of attachment theory, was known to express that he thought that attachment theory was from, “The cradle to the grave”. Although many have contributed to and continue to contribute to and develop the theory of human attachment, it appears as though Bowlby was correct.

After WWII there was a great difficulty with orphaned and dispossessed children. The United Nations asked British psychiatrist John Bowlby to address the matter Attachment theory originally grew from this research and posited a system of behaviors that Bowlby called the Attachment Behavioral System (A.B.S.) and that this system was a function of adaptation and evolution. As you will see, the research provided by Bowlby has set off a chain of research and contributions that continue until this day. It is hoped that the material will speak for itself and you will see, as we have, that

So let’s get down to the information we are looking to put to use, ATS, I am going to give it to you all in a sort of info-blast style, so that we can get it in to ourselves quickly and then, if everyone would like, we can digest it all together and share ideas. Sort of like sharing a meal. Heres we goes.

Infant (Early) Attachment Vs. Adult Attachment

It really comes down to drawing a comparison between Infant Attachment theory and Adult Attachment Theory. There is considerable controversy over just how thoroughly the two overlap and intertwine. But that is what we are going to do, because it is necessary to pull the Goodness out in this way.

In infants, attachment theory observes that infants have a system of behaviors that they exhibit in relation to what is known as the Primary Attachment Figure, we are going to refer to them as the A.F..

We can almost think in terms of input and output. As we will see, desirable attachment outcomes are dependent on certain input, it goes like this: if the A. F. is nearby, accessible and attentive to the infant, then the child exhibits a particular system of behaviors. The child feels loved and secure. But most importantly, the child is more likely to explore their environment and experiment with it. The child will be more eager to reach out for social interaction and shared play and so learning.

If the A.F. disappears for some reason, which has its own set of very real cognitive difficulties for the child, then the child will exhibit a different set of behaviors altogether. These are the behaviors that I think must have convinced Bowlby that Attachment is primarily a function of adaptation. When the A.F. is not present then the child will exhibit a spectrum of behaviors all based on the anxiety that the child feels on separation. Visual searching in infants is the first response and can escalate quickly, depending on the level of anxiety and attachment, to what is known as “Following and calling out”, that paints a dramatic picture all by itself. The child will continue to follow and shout out for the A.F. until they “Wear down” falling into deep despair and depression.

OK. Hang with me ATS, we’ll get it all in there…

Then came Mary Ainsworth and her team. Mary created the Strange Situation model for exploring new dimensions of attachment and separation anxiety. In the strange situation test, children were brought in to a room with their mothers and another unknown person. At some point the mother, the A.F., leaves the room and then the child is observed.

Around 60%, considered the ‘norm, became moderately anxious and exhibited attachment behaviors as described. When the A.F. returned, the child was soothed quickly and was observed to re-engage the A.F. through exhibiting positive attachment behaviors. This is now known as secure attachment

Around 20% or less of the children showed higher than moderate anxiety. Especially these children were not easily soothed when the A.F. returned and re-engaged with thee child. It is observed in these cases that there seems to be an element of wanting to ‘punish’ the A.F. on the part of the child. This is now known as anxious resistant attachment.

The other 20% or less of the children showed little or no anxiety at all when the A.F. left the room. And when the A.F. returned to re-engage the child, the child was observed to avoid the A.F., looking at other objects in the room. This is pretty sophisticated behavior for an infant. This type of attachment is called avoidant attachment. Stay tuned on this one folks, as we get in to adult attachment theory, this will become more important.

So, there we have Ainsworth adding new depth to Bowlby’s work.
edit on 11-5-2012 by Xoanon because: .

posted on May, 11 2012 @ 09:01 PM
Let’s keep rolling along here ATS, when we have all the basics down, then we will be able to begin to speculate and let our minds run wild with this as we like to do. Next up is Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver (1987) who wanted to see if they could satisfy the question as to whether or not the attachment behavior systems of infants were not also the basis for adult romantic relationships.

Let that sink in, it’s really important, in our opinion, to know this, if it is true. It is vital, in fact, to us all being able to come closer to self-actualization and for us to foster the actualization and freedom of those we love. We need to know if it is true because, I think that you will see, that it is vital to denying our own ignorance so that we can all move along in light and peace. Are our adult love relationships continually influenced by our early attachment outcomes? That is what we want to know; here is what Hazan and Shaver began to find for us, way back in the eighties…

Hazan and Shaver noted that the relationship between infants and caregivers and the relationship between adult romantic partners share the following features:

• both feel safe when the other is nearby and responsive
• both engage in close, intimate, bodily contact
• both feel insecure when the other is inaccessible
• both share discoveries with one another
• both play with one another's facial features and exhibit a mutual fascination and preoccupation with one another
• both engage in "baby talk”
On the basis of these parallels, Hazan and Shaver argued that adult romantic relationships, like infant-caregiver relationships, are attachments, and that romantic love is a property of the attachment behavioral system, as well as the motivational systems that give rise to caregiving and sexuality.

Are you noticing how recent this research is, ATS? Bowlby himself just died in 1990. Ainsworth formulated the strange situation model in the early 1970’s and passed in 1999. Hazan and Shaver were working in 87’. This is relatively very new knowledge and systems of understanding ourselves and our how we craft our world.

We want to be able to make this information useful to ourselves so that we may advance ourselves and not fall prey to those that would use this knowledge against us. I will reserve that discussion for later, as the thread develops.

Hang in there ATS, we just need to get the whole story so that we can begin to make this all useful.
Later in 2000, Fraley and Shaver formulated what they considered to be the core principles of Adult Attachment Theory

 The emotional and behavioral dynamics of infant–caregiver relationships and adult romantic relationships are governed by the same biological system.
 The kinds of individual differences observed in infant–caregiver relationships are similar to the ones observed in romantic relationships.
 Individual differences in adult attachment behavior are reflections of the expectations and beliefs people have formed about themselves and their close relationships on the basis of their attachment histories; these "working models" are relatively stable and, as such, may be reflections of early caregiving experiences.
 Romantic love, as commonly conceived, involves the interplay of attachment, caregiving and sex.

Eidolon and I are of the opinion that it should be quite evident at this point that we can rest assured that early attachment outcomes are our experience of attachment as adults. If we can become aware of this, then those of us that realize that we have some places that need to be healed up and strengthened due to less than ideal attachment relationships can do something about it. That is the power of this knowledge. Imagine how the knowledge could be used against us.

Hazan and Shaver’s early research was based on trying to find a relationship between what became known as attachment styles and how people felt about their primary relationships. They did this by asking three questions which we can use right now to casually assess ourselves so that we can begin to make use of this material;. I will link us to other sites where we can take surveys and assessments to gauge other qualities of attachment. Here are the questions from Hazan and Shavers 1987 research…

posted on May, 11 2012 @ 09:05 PM

A. I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely, difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close, and often, others want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being.

B. I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don't worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.

C. I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn't really love me or won't want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away.

The idea is to pick one and then know this…
A = Avoidant Attachment Style
B = Secure Attachment Style
C = Anxious Resistant Attachment Style

I want to open this up very soon to the Forum, but I want to add some bits before we do.

Bit 1

A recurring theme for me as I have contemplated my contribution to these incoming threads, is one of becoming a child again.

What stands out for me in all of this is that if the child, or adult as we now see, does not have a secure place of attachment to launch from, their development can and probably will be stunted. Also do you see with me that we can offer this to one another by being present to and for those that we love through listening and active attention-giving. In this way we can help to re-parent one another, if necessary, in a way that leaves no resentment and no power struggle. How is that possible? Because the key seems to be to re-learn, if we have forgotten, how to play with one another. To take a joyful interest in one another.

Despite the argument as to whether or not infant or early attachment behavior systems absolutely translate in to adult attachment behavior systems, research continues. A new science of Affect Neurobiology has emerged over the last 15 years or so. Dr. Alan Schore and others at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at U.C.L.A. continue to attempt to answer the questions raised by research in to human attachment theories. A whole arsenal of computers and multi-disciplinary academic tams have been brought online to try to discover the roots of who we express ourselves to be; this is the study of affect.

This gives me the opportunity to mention and support a brilliant thread from smithjustinb. He is very correct in stating that one of the next big developments for humanity would be the exploration of compassion and empathy.

If you have stuck with me this far along please take the 6 or so minutes to listen to Dr. Alan Schore tell you about it.

Is this not what we crave in our love relationships? This kind of understanding, play, attention and love, we can give it if we wish, through learning to play together again.

There may be a couple where one partner grew up with more secure attachment than the other partner, and the more secure one is baffled by the behavior of the other. There may be couples where both partners have varying degrees of poor attachment outcomes in early childhood and it is hard for them to take care of one another when things get tight or crazy.

The idea is that we can all benefit from knowing more about why we do what we do and why we interact the way we interact.


It must be kept in mind that the over-ruling scheme in all of this attachment theory is that the child and later the adult will form strategies around how they deal with the anxiety and pain of separation form the A.F.. It will often be learned and Hazan, Fraley and Shaver all agree that [adult attachment outcomes seem to reflect what we have learned to expect from our earliest attachment experiences.

And so that brings me to our avoidant attachment stylists. I should cite Fraley directly…

in an experimental task in which adults were instructed to discuss losing their partner, Fraley and Shaver (1997) found that dismissing individuals (i.e., individuals who are high on the dimension of attachment-related avoidance but low on the dimension of attachment-related anxiety) were just as physiologically distressed (as assessed by skin conductance measures) as other individuals.

When instructed to suppress their thoughts and feelings, however, dismissing individuals were able to do so effectively. That is, they could deactivate their physiological arousal to some degree and minimize the attention they paid to attachment-related thoughts. Fearfully-avoidant individuals were not as successful in suppressing their emotions.

I think that is very interesting. What are your thoughts, ATS.

edit on 11-5-2012 by Xoanon because: .

posted on May, 11 2012 @ 09:13 PM
This thread could not have been created without the article by Chris Fraley, found here...

Here are the promised links, from Chris's article, that will allow you to assess your own attachment style...

Hazar Shaver Measure

What Is Your Attachment Style

Compare Your Attachment Style to That of Your Partner


posted on May, 11 2012 @ 11:25 PM
So this is the attachment theory thread you were going to do. I have not read the whole thing, and only watched that first vid.
And I skimped the rest as I am a bit preoccupied with being bat # crazy, and a few other important things at the moment. But it seems all cool to me, its definitely a good theory and it may even be more then a theory. Which is saying a whole lot, that I wont be bothered to say.

Oh on the occupy movement, jeez when will people learn that all there base are belong to us, and that resistance is futile, they like totally don't get it. It's like they didn't get the messages, and they have a habit of getting in the way which would be annoying if it weren't so

And If I didn't know any better I would say that its almost like they have a mind of there own. But a bad compass, and a mind without a compass is like a rudderless ship. That is, what I am saying, basically going in circles all day and night is only funny for a few days, after that it becomes not funny. Unless off-course being lost is your goal. Then its still funny and a worthy goal.

For those who don't get it as mister T would say...I pity the fool.


posted on May, 26 2012 @ 08:05 AM
Del the Funky Homosapien is all up on Adult Attachment theory.

posted on May, 28 2012 @ 09:02 PM
Eidolon23's most recent contribution to this thread series can be found here. It's a great read, very thought provoking, and I hope you all get a chance to stop by and read it...

Occupy or Inhabit? Changing the Way We Build Communities


edit on 28-5-2012 by Xoanon because: .

posted on May, 29 2012 @ 10:33 PM

Originally posted by Xoanon

What Is Your Attachment Style

I took that test and I have to admit it was right. It's a good thing but I just have to stop trying to multi-task everything under the sun when I'm in a relationship. Regardless of what kind it is. Trying to figure things out can be a good thing but I tend to get over-analytical at times.

posted on May, 31 2012 @ 01:31 PM

Last year around this time Psychology Today had several issues on this topic.

People are plastic - no not like Barbie.

Most information about how people work is focused on knowing yourself, and accepting it. When really anyone can decide to change the parameters if they know what the parameters are and it suits their values. Being uncomfortable enough to accept what the current state is is great, and the highest calling of many thought systems.

Whereas the evidence would tend to suggest that this step is necessary, but doesn't have the be the final destination.

The learning cultures are very stuck on the idea that changes to behaviour and brain function can only be implemented in childhood. That there is a window, and if you don't hit that window then everything is lost. Or that if something happens to a child in that window, they are pre-destined for all sorts of terrible things and are incapable of changes later on. Boy sees abuse, boy is abuser. Molested are molesters. Harm to attachment is a lifetime prediction for pain.

These ideas rob people of knowing that they have the power to effect changes in their own make-up.

Brain plasticity refers to the capacity of the nervous system to change its structure and, its function over a lifetime, in reaction to environmental diversity. Although this term is now commonly used in psychology and neuroscience, it is not easily defined and is used to refer to changes at many levels in the nervous system ranging from molecular events, such as changes in gene expression, to behavior."

People know that attachment styles in adults can be changed, or modified. They merely only see the negative occurences of it. Stockholm Syndrome (and Lima Syndrome) is a fast drastic change to an adult's attachment style.

The capacity for drastic change is inherent, just unused or used in terrible ways instead of for betterment.

edit on 31-5-2012 by SibylofErythrae because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 31 2012 @ 05:14 PM
This is new. This article is about rats with severe spinal injury causing paralysis, and how the rats learned to walk voluntarily again - with support.

Rats that trained on a moving treadmill instead of on a stationary runway moved their feet reflexively but never learned to walk voluntarily. Only conscious participation in walking encouraged new connections between the rodents' brains, spinal cords and limbs, which they needed to take those first deliberate steps. "

Conscious participation was the key to rewiring that produced useful results.

If a paralyzed rat can learn to walk with some electrical prodding and an assortment of chemicals and some encouragement to conscious participation, surely the same applies to behaviour.

The interesting question becomes, how do you put a psyche in a harness and encourage it to walk?

(and just because the video is interesting)

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