ATTACHMENT AND DISSOCIATION
The development of attachment is fundamental to the healthy physical, intellectual, and social development of the child.
It is critically important that a child has sensitive parents who are able to perceive her signals, enable her to regulate stress and affect appropriately, and in this way anchor a secure emotional representation of the attachment in the child’s neuronal networks. Normally, children with a secure attachment have an integrated and coherent internal working model of attachment. Children with an insecure attachment also have an organised inner working model of attachment - for example avoidant or ambivalent attachment - but it is insecure; however, children with the disorganised attachment have a model in which a variety of working models of attachment coexist simultaneously. In other words, such a type of attachment tends to be dissociated. A disorganised attachment model develops when children perceive that their parents are afraid of them, sometimes frighten and threaten them, but then collapse into a helpless state in which they are incapable of responding sensitively to their child’s signals. In essence, they do not perceive their parents as consistent, coherent entities when dealing with stressful, emotional situations in daily life. This becomes especially important when a child is under stress and frightened and is searching for a secure attachment ﬁgure for protection. If an attachment ﬁgure signals that she, too, is fearful in these situations, perhaps because she has not yet worked through her own childhood traumas, she may be triggered by the child’s normal behaviour such as crying or throwing a tantrum. Because of the parent’s own agitation or anxiety, she may not be available to provide the protection and security that her child is seeking or respond when he signals that he needs calming, security, and help with affect regulation. Under these circumstances, the child may be prone to developing a disorganised working model. Longitudinal studies involving psychological testing at the end of the second year have shown that children who exhibit a disorganised attachment pattern during the ﬁrst year of infancy tend to develop symptoms of a borderline personality disorder during adolescence. As has been shown in numerous studies, dissociated self and ego-states are more frequent in such persons.
(Source: ESTD Newsletter Volume 4 Number 4, December 2015, from K.H. Brisch)
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