Introduction: Relationships The infant is born into the world genetically programmed to connect with caregivers1who will become “attachment figures” in the child’s life. These attachments can be formed to the mother, to the father, and to other individuals who are intimately involved in providing care for the growing child. Attachment is defines a process of orienting towards the caregiver, seeking of the caregiver in stressful situations, and searching for the caregiver when separated. Babies exhibit certain behaviors to attract attention from the caregiver. Parents have also evolved to respond to certain features of babies. These early experiences of signaling by the baby and obtaining response by the caregiver are carried throughout life as mental models of how relationships operate. If the baby is capable of getting the environment to respond to there needs, and if they are valued simply because they exist, they will carry with them throughout their whole life a sense of value. The individual’s personal self-reflections on this value is one component of self-esteem. Without up dating these mental models, early childhood’s caregiver-infant relationship predicts adult relationships. If those early relationships were warm and caring, then the child would grow up expecting that other relationships would be warm and caring. If the early relationships were cold and neglectful, or even abusive, then the person would grow up expecting the same from other adult relationships.
Cling or leave:
Humans throughout their life-cycle are institutively motivated by curiosity to explore their environment. We must explore to learn about resource options, potential threats, and sources of security. When fear is felt from the thought of moving into the unknown, security is reestablished by proximity to the primary care-given. When the sense of safety returns, attention can again be redirected back to exploration. These two instinctive impulses push to exploration and pull to security objects follows the individual through out their life cycle. How else can a child ever grow up, leave home, find a mate, reproduce and nurture the offspring to adulthood, if they have not resolved the push-pull forces in their life? The attachment process might be summarized into the following model:
*If Baby feels safe, return to exploration.
*If Baby feels unsafe, get close to mom. Get her attention, now!
When distressed in the future, the mental models of the relationships between baby and mother activate leading the child through their repertoire of signally behavior. If the infant experiences unpredictable, emotionally distant, depressed, or frightened mother, the infant’s working model represents the relationship between self and mother as insecure.
Parent to child
The relationship between parents and children is unbalanced because children have not yet developed a sense of self separated from the parents. Children’s sense of worth and competence requires affirmation from the parent. Right from birth, the back and forth interactions between parent and children eventually established a working model inside children’s brain of worth and competence. The overall appraisal by oneself is reflected in one measure called self-esteem, that is, how I rate my worth and competency.
For people with low or false self worth, the origin of this appraisal might lie deep in the subconscious and represent conclusions drawn by them as a child. If, on the other hand, children cannot receive these affirming signals from the parents or the parents are unable or unavailable to transmit the appropriate affirming signal, children begin to form distorted frames of reference about themselves and about others. Children will work to lower their sense of attachment anxiety by forming fantasies along the lines of “if I can only get it right, they will love me” or “I don’t think that I will ever get it right, so I’m out of here.” For adolescents and adults, these distortions leads to irrational beliefs about self and others, anxiety about acceptability, concern about getting ones needs met, and easily shamed.
Those adults who fall into the group of “if I can only get it right” group focus on others with the disregard of their own needs. We call these people Codependent. The other extreme is populated with people who said to themselves, “I’m outa here.” They focus on their own needs with the complete and total disregard of others feelings. We call these people Narcissists. These insecurely attached individuals present various combinations of negative view of the world and of others resulting in hostile, cynical, greedy, needy, and arrogant behavior. Many of these people turn to substance, gambling, work, and other forms of addiction to lower their insecure feelings.
Bartholomew and Horowitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_measures)
The working models formed in early childhood provides relationship governance of relationship in adulthood. Bartholomew and Horowitz conceptualized the attachment relationships along two continuous dimensions. Dimension (1) is the feelings we have towards our self and dimension (2) is the feelings we have towards others. These feeling may be positive or negative. From these two dimension placed at right angles, they formed a matrix with four possibilities. A secure individual feels positive about self and positive about others. They are saying to themselves that they are OK and feel that others are similarly OK. Dismissing type of relationship is characterized by aggressive behavior that stem from a positive feeling about self, and a negative feeling towards others. Preoccupied type of relationship, a person immediately assumes that they are wrong and the other person is right. They typical codependent where “if they can only get it right, they will be loved. “ These individuals are passive within the relationship, generally permitting the other person to dominate and they can follow. Fearful types approach the world with a feeling that they are not OK and the world is not OK. This is a very difficult place to live. These individuals have to use rituals and beliefs not founded in reality to along in the world.
From these two dimension, we can define two extremes:
Over-Attached The over attached adult/child will not leave home. The may physically leave, but psychologically they do not leave. Their identity centers on relationship with the parent(s). Even if these individuals become married, have families of their own, they will yearn for the connection with the emotionally unavailable parent(s). Their struggle throughout their life is to complete their unfulfilled self-worth identity. These people are so needy, they become annoying.
Under-Attached Under-attached adult/child obtain identity from others by winning against them. Other people are used for competition to prove their superiority. Conflict and disorder are necessary to maintain their superiority. These children and adults achieve a sense of self-worth by always coming out on top by winning the contest. Life is one triumph, contest, competition, win, loose,revenge for the loss, etc.A never ending battle, war, combat, conflict, protest, or revolution. In short, don’t play well with others.