What is insecure attachment?

We look at insecure attachments with Dr. Svanberg – avoidant and ambivalent/anxious attachments

Good for looking at

  • insecure attachments
  • ambivalent/anxious attachments
  • avoidant attachments

Transcript of video – What is insecure attachment?

“In many ways we are quite fortunate that the majority of parents are able to behave in ways that helps their children become securely attached. Quite normally, quite spontaneously, no help, that’s just the way they are. Around 60 / 65 % of children are securely attached. So what happens with the children who are not securely attached? The most common insecure attachment, particularly in this culture, in the British culture, is the avoidant attachment. In an avoidant attachment or in a relationship that leads the child to become avoidantly attached, the parent has, in many respects, sent signals to the child that it’s not a good thing to be emotional. You know, we’re not particularly kind of emotional round here. It’s the sort of stiff upper lip family if you like and that can be all emotions, so it’s not good to be angry, it’s not good to be upset, it’s not good to be frightened and if that’s in the extreme you end up with a very non-emotional highly kind of inhibited person. The other kind of more common group is what is called ambivalent attachment or anxious attachment. These are children who, in a sense, can’t be sure whether their parent will comfort them at that time or not. Sometimes the parent will be comforting, other times the parent might actually be rejecting and you can’t anticipate that. You can’t predict it. So they develop this strategy of a kind of high display of emotion which is a mixture of emotion, it’s partly help-seeking, ‘please comfort me’, and partly angry, ‘I know you won’t’, it’s kind of backwards and forwards. What this strategy does is that it says to the parent ‘you must look at me all the time, you must know where I am all the time’, because it’s based on this fear of being left or being abandoned and so on. These three, secure attachment, the avoidant attachment, the anxiously ambivalent attachment are very common. It counts for something like 90% of all attachment behaviour in children.”