A portrait of avoidant attachment .
As a tutor I am always looking innovative ways to teach classical theories of applied psychology,
one of the most interesting areas that I teach is that of attachment theory, developed by in the 1950’s by John Bowlby and further expanded in the 1970’s by fellow (sic) researcher Mary Ainsworth.
Attachment theory effectively maps how caregiver behaviour toward a child forms the their internal world, including the ability to feel loved and love others.
If a child has inconsistent care giving then they develop the belief that others cannot be trusted, they avoid intimacy living an isolated existence ,they believe that I’m ‘OK’ but you are not ‘OK’
Someone with and avoidant attachment style ,has develop the sense from childhood that they are ‘OK’ bit others are not ‘OK’, they may find intimacy just to difficult, yet at some level yearn to be loved……
This is best described in the the song “I am a rock “ by Paul Simon,
The lyrics below sum up exactly how those with avoidant attachment may very well describe their world.
“I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.”
Reminding themselves that as children , the lack of caregiver love and affection has taught them …
“If I never loved I never would have cried”
And because the risk of loving is so dangerous, they consider it is best if they believe.
“ a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”
Because ,that is a portrait of avoidant attachment ….
Listen to the song in full and consider, if this was a client speaking these words ,how would you shape your responses?