How Early Attachments Make A Difference To Our Relationships

Dr Nicholas Jenner

We can look very closely at the past for a clue as to why things often go wrong in adult relationships. The early attachments (or not) that we make with our primary caregivers set the tone for behavior and conditioning in adulthood. These attachments, whether secure or insecure go way back to our very early days. How children and parents react in “strange situations” and through separation are the determining factors.

When a child is separated from its parent, the infant goes through a series of three stages of emotional reaction. First is protest, in which the infant cries and refuses to be consoled by others. Second is despair, in which the infant is sad and passive. Third is detachment, in which the infant actively disregards and avoids the parent if the parent returns (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). The way a parent handles this is crucial to how attachment…

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