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What is Attachment?

Attachment: a determinant in health, addiction, eating disorders and even happiness. It is the quality of our relationship with our primary caregivers growing up, usually mom and dad.

As we develop during the first 5 years of life, our brain is very busy manifesting neural connections at a rate of 700,000 per second! We are very vulnerable and the next two decades we spend trimming those connections to create a brain based on the first 2-5 years. If the relationship with our parents is loving and supportive we will develop a brain that is set to live in a world that is perceived as safe and loving. If we are not so lucky and our caregiver(s) is neglectful, not caring or even abusive our brain will then evolve into one that prepares us for a world perceived as not safe and not nice.

The resulting brain will have physical changes that disable our ability to self-regulate emotions to keep us safe in a not safe world. The result is a chronic spewing of cortisol which makes us feel anxious (prompting us to take action to make sure we are safe -initially as a fight flight response. Later this make present as panic or may simply manifest into anxiety and depression. Without an internal ability to regulate emotions triggered by cortisol, we seek external ways to cope such as food, sex, drugs, alcohol or even obsessive compulsive activity. We seek to be happy but find ourselves becoming more and more dependent on others or often maladaptive ways to avoid feeling bad.

Attachment is the most common underlying reason people develop an addiction or eating disorder.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study or ACE Reveals a direct relationship between trauma or miss-attachment to not only addiction and eating disorders but to the premature onset of other illnesses including obesity, heart disease, immune disorders and cancer.

In the Still Face Experiment:  

We see what happens when healthy attachment, mom and her baby are resonating with each other in a very positive loving way, is temporarily disrupted. We can see the high level of distress that manifests in the child in less than 2 minutes. The experiment illustrates positive or “secure” attachment and the consequences of not having the presence of such.

Can we suffer from Attachment “wounds” if we had loving parents?

Yes, as life can be unpredictable and unexpected tragedy or traumas can occur. A parent may die young, or develop and illness that compromises their best intentions to be the best possible parent. A sibling may die or be seriously ill, going in and out of the hospital. Both parents may be consumed with attending to this child or become as consumed with grief if the child dies. The remaining children suddenly become invisible though no one intended that to happen.

Attachment Wounds can be healed.

In therapy, we can repair misses in the attachment relationship and improve resiliency as well as access to loving our self, being happy, and having the option to develop and expand our spiritual experience of being so we can maximize our potential and realize our dreams.