Disorganised Attachment in Couples
Updated: Jul 31
Many theories and studies view early years attachment a major factor in the development of the child throughout their early years, across their puberty into adulthood. Various external factors in a person's life as well as unique internal factors can and do reinforce early attachment patterns or facilitate change, towards attachment stability, or not. To this adding neurobiological differences may also influence attachment patterns change in ways yet to be discovered. In a marital relationship strength versus deficiencies can also influence attachment stability, in a process that is not necessarily linear.
In romantic attachment styles the studies support three main categories:
specifically in this blog the disorganised is also subdivided in:
Disorganised Controlling Caretaking
Disorganised Controlling Punitive
Disorganised Controlling Fearful Avoidant
The Caretaking is a system of "control" that functions as regulator for cognition, affect, and behaviour, in other words those partners who have developed such an attachment in infancy they have developed a controlling proximity to their spouses by regulating emotional arousal, for themselves.
The controlling Punitive Attachment individual externalise their need for control by intimidating other, bullying, and coercion of their partner's emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. For them felt emotions can be experienced as abandonment or betrayal, these individuals have a volatile sense of self and other. Depending on each event they feel excessively entitled / grandiose or deeply self-loathing, often their attachment triggers emotional threats and provokes an emotional imbalance.
Disorganised Controlling Fearful Avoidant partner internalise their needs for control, they intent to show low levels of self disclosure, low levels of emotional engagement, a conscious thought permanent in their mind is to self-dissuade from exposing their inner most thoughts and feelings for fear of humiliation, rejection, or attack. Often their behaviour oscillates between #emotional and #behaviour withdraw, stonewalling their partner' effort to engage or to seek emotional #intimacy.
In couple therapy I intent to recognise the prevalence of attachment disorganisation in adulthood, and its damaging effect on the couple relationship. I am an Integrative counsellor and one of the models I find to be effective with my couple work is to focus on their individual attachment style, to explore subconscious behaviours and to raise awareness in their relationship patterns of behaviour.
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