Connecting with yourself and others (Attachment)

We build our self-concept from attachment with our carers: Even if you have never had a secure attachment, it’s never too late to develop one. There are many benefits to secure attachment. They include:

  • giving you an anchor in the world, a place where you are connected
  • supporting a more positive picture of people and more optimistic sense about your life
  • helping to build a sense of security that you keep with you
  • offering you a place to rest, where you are not alone but rather held by another
  • providing a platform of good feelings that strengthens self-esteem and confidence
  • making it more likely that you can reach out to others in the future with your needs
  • strengthening favourable neural pathways and stimulating brain development
  • improving your capacity to self-regulate
  • giving you an important resource that helps you know you can handle the rough spots on the bumpy road of life

Schemas drives the thought and then the feeling:

  Best Worst Balance
  • Entitlement
  • Superiority
  • Underserving
  • Inferiority
  • Balancing Self-worth
  • Self-acceptance
  • Avoidant (I don’t need people)
  • Idealising
  • v  Anxious (I’m likely to be abandoned – jealous or clingy)
  • v  Secure Attachment
World Schema
  • Totally Safe
  • Totally Predictable
v  Dangerous

v  Unpredictable

v  Reasonable

v  Relatively Predictable

Attachment Styles

Test yourself first:

Attachment Style % of US population Child’s general state of being Mother’s responsiveness to child’s signals & needs Adult reaction
Secure 65% Secure, explorative, happy Quick, sensitive, consistent Have trusting, lasting relationship

Tend to have good self-esteem

Comfortable sharing feelings with friends and partners

Seek out social support

Avoidant  20% Not very explorative, emotionally distant Distant, disengaged May have problems with Intimacy

Invest little emotion in social and romantic relationships

Unable or willing to share thoughts and feelings with others

Ambivalent  10-15% Anxious, insecure,
Inconsistent, sometimes sensitive, sometimes neglectful Reluctant to come close to others

Worry that their partner doesn’t love them

Become very distraught when the relationship ends

Disorganised  10-15% Depressed, angry,
completely passive,
erratic frightened or frightening,
passive or intrusive
Show many antisocial behaviours such as lack of empathy and remorse.

Are selfish, controlling, refuse personal responsibility for their actions, and disregard rules.

Zimmerman et al (2000) assessed attachment style of children ages 12 to 18 months and then in a longitudinal study checked again at the age of 16 years (using interviews to determine the relationship the child had with its parents).  They found that early attachment style was not a good predictor of later relationships and also discovered that life events such as parental divorce had a much greater impact.

A poor early start can be overcome by positive experiences at school and good adult relationships (Rutter & Quinton 1988). 


[i] Bartholomew, K. (1990). Avoidance of intimacy: An attachment perspective. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 147-178.

[ii] Mary Main (1943) is an American psychologist notable for her work in the field of attachment. A Professor at the University of California Berkeley, Main is particularly known for her introduction of the ‘disorganized’ infant attachment classification and for development of the Adult Attachment Interview and coding system for assessing states of mind regarding attachment. This work has been described as ‘revolutionary’ and Main has been described as having ‘unprecedented resonance and influence’ in the field of psychology