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
00:11
In many ways,
00:11
we are really quite fortunate that
00:14
the majority of parents are able to behave
00:18
in ways that helps their children
00:20
become securely attached quite normally,
00:24
quite spontaneously.
00:26
No help, that's just the way they are.
00:28
Around 60-65% of all children are securely attached.
00:38
The most common insecure attachment
00:42
is the Avoidant attachment.
00:45
In an Avoidant attachment,
00:48
parent has in many respects sent signals
00:51
to the child that it's not a good thing to be emotional.
00:56
You know, we're not particularly kinda emotional around here
00:59
and that be all emotions.
01:02
So it's just not good to be angry,
01:04
it's not good to be upset,
01:06
it's not good to be frightened.
01:08
And if that is in an extreme,
01:10
you end up with a very nonemotional,
01:16
highly kind of inhibited person.
01:19
The other kind of more common group
01:23
is what is called Anxious attachment.
01:25
These are children who,
01:27
in a sense, can't be sure
01:30
whether the parent will comfort them
01:32
at that time or not.
01:35
Sometimes the parent will be comforting,
01:37
other times the parent might actually be rejecting.
01:40
And you can't anticipate that.
01:42
You can't predict it.
01:44
So they develop this strategy
01:46
of kind of high display of emotion,
01:51
which is a mixture of emotion.
01:53
It's partly help seeking,
01:54
please comfort me.
01:56
And partly angry,
01:57
I know you won't.
01:59
It's kind of backwards and forwards.
02:02
What this strategy does is that it says to the parent,
02:06
"You must look at me all the time.
02:09
You must know where I am all the time."
02:12
Because it's based on the fear of being left
02:16
or being abandoned, and so on.
02:20
As relationships develop,
02:24
we become who we are through those relationships.
02:30
And if those relationships are nurturing
02:33
and positive and makes us feel safe and secure,
02:39
we are likely to follow a pathway in life that is positive.
02:48
If those early relationships are perhaps critical,
02:54
perhaps rejecting, perhaps abusive,
02:57
we are likely to struggle and for some people
03:02
spend the rest of your life struggling
03:04
to find the kind of security
03:08
that you were entitled to have as a child,
03:11
but didn't get.

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.”