Have you heard of ambivalent attachment? First of all, that attachment must be remembered it is the affective and emotional bond established between a child and his or her caregiver, or between one person and another. It is characterized by the search for proximity, support and intimate interaction. Also, they tend to develop from an early age.
From various surveys (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main, as main references), it has been established that attachment impacts on the person’s idea of himself, of the attachment figure and of the relationship itself. These are the so-called “active internal models”, which then tend to carry over into other relationships.
When the attachment relationship is well established, feelings of trust and security develop, e you learn empathy, communication and self-esteem. However, this doesn’t always go in that direction and may have weak foundations. Thus, relationships become unstable or conflicted. So let’s see what ambivalent attachment is.
The ambivalent attachment theory
From the investigation performed in the “strange situation”, performed by Ainsworth, different types of attachments have been detected. These include the secure, the insecure avoidant, and the insecure ambivalent. Furthermore, further research by Main and Solomon identified a fourth type, which is disorganized attachment.
As far as secure attachment is concerned, it occurs in those situations in which children seek contact with their caregiver figure, are able to express their discomfort and anguish, and at the same time can resume their exploration activity .
As for ambivalent attachment, refers to cases where the behavior is ambiguous, i.e. there is an interest in reconnecting, at the same time that it is avoided when it appears. There is a tension between proximity and resistance. In the case of the model attachment avoidant, the child seems to feel no discomfort and refuses his caregiver when he appears.
Examples of ambivalent attachment
Some behaviors in which we can detect ambivalent attachment are situations in which the boy or girl feels insecure in the caregiver’s absence, but when the caregiver returns, he approaches as much as rejects him.
In adult cases it is reflected in relationships in which there are “back and forth” or interest is shown but also rejection. Likewise, there is a request for contact, attention and closeness, that when one of the members doesn’t have it, he tries to make the other feel guilty.
Causes of ambivalent attachment
To understand the causes of this form of attachment it is necessary to think beyond the individual and relational level, since contextual elements also contribute. For example, it says so the basis of ambivalent attachment has to do with inconsistency or unavailability in the response of the caregiver figure to the child’s requests.
When the explanation focuses only on this aspect, it seems to be responsible and to blame. However, it is also necessary to analyze what the conditions and impediments are for establishing healthy bonds. We must not lose sight of the influence of different systems and context.
What are the characteristics of ambivalent attachment?
In ambivalent attachment, the typical behavior is that boys and girls are anxious and insecure around strangers, even reaching tears. However, when the parents return, they find no comfort, the anguish continues and their behavior oscillates between approaching, distancing and rejection.
The child interprets the bond as intermittent and this generates insecurity, as he understands that sometimes he gets attention and sometimes he doesn’t, and the problem is the uncertainty of not knowing when. Inconsistency could be the word that summarizes this type of attachment.
What are its consequences?
Attachment theory has that as its main starting point This defines the basis of what the will be future relationshipsat the same time that it impacts on a personal level, on issues such as self-esteem and safety.
Several authors point out that there is a parallelism between the relational experiences of adults and attachment theory. For this reason, from this idea, it is believed that those with an ambivalent style are adults who are insecure, distrustful, afraid of being abandoned and who have difficulty engaging in relationships.
Some studies even speak of the presence of hypervigilance behaviors. There is also the presence of anxiety, a strong need for closeness and fear of rejection and separation. From him, Garrido (2006) states that people with ambivalent attachment report high levels of negative affect, with discomfort and anger.
Is there a cure for ambivalent attachment?
Because attachment is related to reading ability of parents and caregivers needs of children, research suggests perform actions related to sensitivity, especially during early childhood.
On the other hand, it is necessary to work with adults who have attachment difficulties (ambivalent, disorganized or avoidant), especially in cases of mental health problems. This is recommended for a second stage.
First, it involves addressing specific issues, which are more sensitive to change, and then addressing deeper and far-reaching issues, which require more time to address.
Furthermore, when dealing with an already established situation, psychological therapy is recommended. In these cases, a lot of work is done on individual aspects, such as self-esteem, security, trust, emotional dependence and also on relational models.
Depending on the extent of the situation, it can be approached by the theory of trauma, especially in the presence of situations of violence.
Secure attachment is always a protective factor
It is important to keep in mind that the quality of bonding is what influences the development of boys and girls. Like any bond, it is the construction, time, successive approximations and contacts that favor knowledge and understanding of what the other needs.
Secure attachment will always be a protective factor for different life circumstances. However, too you need to consider that this it is not something isolated, without contact with the context.
In this sense, we must always ask ourselves what are the conditions that are influencing the development or maintenance of a certain type of bond. In the answers it will not be strange to discover that, often, economic and social conditions have a greater influence than one would like.
So Bowlby should be reminded:
Therefore, Thinking about attachment also involves accompanying the people they care for, through resources such as parental education programs, reconciliation policies, family support, employment, among other measures.
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