Attachment disorder is a broad term used to describe emotional and behavioural issues arising from failure to form healthy attachments to parental figures in early childhood. These issues include abuse, neglect or seperation. An individuals attachment style is determined permenantly before the age of 3.

Types of Attachment:

According to Mary Ainsworth, there are three main types of attachment.

Secure Attachment:

Children with a secure attachment child are confident that their caregiver will be able to provide for their needs. They will use their caregiver as a safe place whilst they explore their environments independantly. In times of distress they are able to reach out to their caregivers. They are easily reassured by their caregivers.

Insecure Avoidant:

Insecure avoidant children are independant of their caregivers both physically and emotionally. They do not face their caregiver while they are in play and are indifferent to a caregivers reassurance when they are distressed. There caregivers are unlikely to attend to their needs.

Insecure Resistent:

The final attachment style is one where the child will display clingy behaviour towards their caregiver only to reject being comforted. The child does not feel security from their caregiver. When they are distressed they are difficult to reassure and do not calm down from interaction with their caregiver. This attachment style comes from having an inconsistent attendance to the childs needs. The caregiver may occasionally respond but other times will not.

Problems Resulting from Unhealthy Attachment:

There are various issues that can arrise from having an unhealthy attachment style. These issues can affect all parts of an adults life including their relationship with their own children.

Those with anxious attachment styles may be self critical in their adult life. This results in you seeking a partner that can reassure your self worth. The anxiety will also be present in adult relationships. You can be clingy and jealous out of fear that your partner will leave you.

Those with an avoidant attachment style may be very distant in their relationships. This can result in partners and friends feeling uncared about. You may run away from relationships when they become to intimate – depriving yourself of something that you may well find some joy in.

Various mental health issues can also arise from unhealthy attachment styles. These include:

  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Seperation anxiety disorder
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Disinhibited attachment disorder


If you want some improvement in the quality of your relationships, attachment therapy can help. This type of therapy will help you examine your relationship with your caregiver and your previous romantic relationships. Negative behavioural patterns will be assessed and then steps can be taken to counteract them.

Dialectical behavioural therapy can also be very affective in helping you regulate your emotions and find effective ways of communicating.


24 thoughts on “What is Attachment Disorder?

  1. Reading your descriptions of the different types of attachment I recognised my two-year-old in all of them. Sometimes he will march off and start playing without looking back, other times he will be more wary and cling to me. Sometimes he can be consoled with ease, and other times it seems comforting him makes him worse.

    Am I right to think that this variation means he is just normal? Or does it point to something more?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think these reactions can be healthy and normal just make sure you focus on your own behaviours and give your children the appropriate amount of attention. That is what is most important in healthy development.


  2. Pleased that you enjoyed my dog Isis’s blog. It’s interesting just how much human
    applies to other animals.
    She has returned to her
    usual self since I returned home. I enjoyed reading your attachment article and will read more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would most closely be classed as an insecure preoccupied attachment style. The child seeks comfort elsewhere because they do not trust their caregiver to comfort them. They long for high levels of responsiveness but may fear rejection. This kind of behaviour is quite rare though – it mostly occurs in children that may have abusive parents.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was recently told by my therapist that I have a attachment disorder. In conflict with parents and significant other and trying to balance love from both when my parents hate the man I’m with. I know I always asked my mother if she loved me when I was young, and now, as an adult I am very hard on myself. Dialectical Behavior Therapy again was mentioned in this post as being helpful – it is something I’m going to look into as I definitely need better emotion management. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

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