Why is attachment theory so compelling?
Assignment – Discussion – Personality Theory & Research: Attachment theory is almost universally accepted and loved. Everybody borrows from it. What do you think folks find so compelling about these ideas? What about yourself? Please give examples and explain the concepts you are referring to. Don’t forget to incorporate the Shaver & Mikulincer (2005) in addition to the Funder.
Why do people find attachment theory compelling?
Reading Funder’s (2016) description of attachment theory as another manifestation of Freud’s doctrine of opposites helped me gain a better appreciation for its simplicity and, consequently, its popularity. Anything founded on the doctrine of opposites, as Freud and many others refer to the concept of two diametrically opposed ideas, categories, or polarities and a happy medium between them, seem to be quite easy to comprehend. This duality principle is evident in both everyday life and nature, such as the divisions between good and evil, friend and foe, left and right, day and night, man and woman. Or, in terms of attachment styles, the opposing attachment styles of ambivalence and avoidance, and the ideal balanced middle represented by secure attachment. While the ambivalent attachment style represents a hyperactivation of the attachment system, in other words, a concerted effort to seek closeness to the attachment figure in order to secure attention and support, the avoidant often does the opposite, deactivating the attachment system in order to avoid seeking closeness and, as a result, striving to maintain self-reliance and emotional distance (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005). Thus, one of the reasons the attachment theory has gained such popularity may well be that it is based on a principle that appears to exist throughout nature and our daily lives, making it fairly simple to grasp, regardless of one’s level of expertise.
Furthermore, I believe that the majority of things that become widespread need to have some element of truth in them in order to gain initial popularity. As an evolutionary and social trait, we humans have developed the ability to recognize truth and its opposite, in other words, untruth, albeit mostly subconsciously. When someone speaks words of wisdom, for example, we frequently experience them somatically as a deeper truth, regardless of whether they are true only for ourselves or can also be considered objective truth. Thus, another reason for the attachment theory’s popularity could be that it accurately depicts reality, allowing people to identify with it while also learning and growing from it. Additionally, just as the principle of opposites is a universally recognized natural law, making it natural for us to gravitate towards it, so is growth, particularly from a humanistic psychological perspective, naturally making it even more appealing to us. On top of this, attachment theory research has been particularly successful (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005) in increasing its popularity among contemporary westernized individuals who do not always want to only follow a bottom-up approach of trusting what “feels natural” to them, but also need to apply a top-down approach of receiving logical confirmation of whether something is true or not, which science is critical in accomplishing.
Why do I find attachment theory so compelling?
Personally, I find attachment theory incredibly compelling and fascinating. In my relationship with my wife, who self-identifies as an avoidant attachment style, we frequently refer to and discuss attachment theory in order to better understand ourselves and the dynamics that occasionally arise between us. My wife has described how she has used her loving relationship as a secure foundation for exploring the world, allowing her to heal or develop a more secure attachment style over time. This leads us to the idea that maybe attachment theory can help us in the process of resolving past adversity, heal the inner child, integrate various sub-personalities, or simply evolve into a more authentic and truer version of ourselves. Whatever way we experience this process of growth, self-healing, and possibly self-actualization, I experience that attachment theory can help us understand something as complex, yet so simple, as human relationships and the deeper urge to be loved and understood. For instance, both with my wife and one of my closest friends, I almost always feel completely accepted for who I am. I feel that the numerous facets of my personality, as well as my diverse interests and experiences, are permitted to exist. I don’t feel compelled to conceal certain aspects of myself in order to fit in or avoid being perceived as a threat or excessively different.
After reflecting on these specific relationship dynamics, I’ve realized that it’s not just the relationships we have with others that matter, but even more so the relationships we have with ourselves that shape how we interact with others. In order for my wife and my closest friend to truly see and accept me for who I am, they not only need to love me, they also need to love and accept themselves on a deeper level. In this regard, it may be necessary to distinguish between intra- and inter-relational attachment, the former referring to how we relate to ourselves and the latter to other people. Back to my wife, and, indeed, all of us. When we heal our insecure attachment style, it appears as we naturally also develop a new relationship with ourselves, which is then reflected in our relationships with others; conversely, when we feel truly safe and loved with others, we can also mirror that experience in our relationships with the deeper aspects of ourselves. This conclusion leads back to the importance of the therapeutic alliance, and the need for therapists that can assist the client in healing and developing both their intra- and inter-personal attachment.
A final reflection on attachment theory is that, while I consider myself fortunate to have received a secure attachment style, I have recognized that I have needed to heal and integrate certain aspects of myself, both avoidant and ambivalent. By spending time in silence, reflecting, introspecting, and feeling as a means of healing, I have witnessed the integration of various avoidant and ambivalent aspects of myself into the “whole team” of Jonas Thus, to conclude, attachment theory does not only appear to assist us in better understanding our relationships with the people around us; it also appears to assist us in building a stronger and more intimate relationship with the person who is always closest to us, ourselves, or for that matter, our Self (which to me mean my Soul, or the Divine). Given how fascinating I find this subject, I’m not surprised that so many others do as well; which brings us back to why attachment theory is so compelling in the first place.
Funder, D. (2016). The personality puzzle (7th ed.). Norton & Company.
Shaver, P. R., & Mikulincer, M. (2005). Attachment theory and research: Resurrection of the psychodynamic approach to personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 39, 22–45.