Change Psychology: Attachment Theory

recently wrote about building up a resource for Change knowledge here within this very Blog. Finally I got the time to deal with some basic psychological questions of Change. I am looking forward to be able to share those insights on “Change Psychology” with you, here.

Infants have a number of component instinctual responses that bind the infant to the mother and vice versa, including sucking, clinging, and following, as well as the signaling behaviors of smiling and crying. These develop during the first year and continue through life into healthy adult relationships.

When attached people (attachment figures) are separated three phases of separation response: protest (related to separation anxiety), despair (related to grief and mourning), and denial or detachment (related to defence mechanisms, especially repression). Secure attachment is significantly related to maternal sensitivity. If the mother does not feel attached then the infant will not show secure attachment behavior. Note that two-way attachment is not the same as one-way dependency.

As children develop, so does their motivational style going from fixed action patterns to to complex plan hierarchies with various sub-goals and ongoing goal correction.

Ainsworth’s research with many mothers and children showed three infant attachment patterns:

  1. Securely attached infants cried little and seemed content to explore in the presence of mother;
  2. Insecurely attached infants cried frequently, even when held by their mothers, and explored little
  3. Not-yet attached infants manifested no differential behavior to the mother.

Babies whose mothers had been highly responsive to crying during the early months now tended to cry less, relying for communication on facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations. Those whose mothers had provided much tender holding during the first quarter sought contact less often during the fourth quarter.

Using attachment theory in psychotherapy is the reappraisal of inadequate, outdated working models of self in relation to attachment figures. This is a particularly difficult task if important others, especially parents, have forbidden their review.

A person with inadequate and rigid working models of attachment relations is likely to impose these models on interactions with the therapist — which is that something that the therapist must beware, of course.

Using it
Understand the other person’s attachment style and hence create attachment with them using subtle use of primitive connection mechanisms.

When others attempt to attach with you, watch for the methods they use and make a conscious, rather than unconscious, decision whether or not to respond.

Psychology of Change (Picture source:
Original article taken from

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