Affection is a type of emotional bond that occurs between two human beings and is associated with intimate relationships, such as those between mothers and children. People have different types of attachment that develop during infancy and tend to remain stable through adolescence and adulthood.
In a very high proportion of cases, babies form secure attachments, but others fail to do so, but show insecure grip; this in turn can be divided into ambivalent inclination and avoidant affection. In this article we will describe the main features of preventive disease in children and adults.
A psychological aspect that affects us throughout life
John Bowlby, psychologist and psychiatrist influenced by psychoanalysis but also by ethology and evolutionism, developed the theory of the condition, according to which humans we are phylogenetically predisposed to form emotional bonds with those who take care of us and keep us safe. The condition has been studied primarily in infants, but also in adults.
Different authors have classified patterns of affection based on their observations and research. In the 1960s and 1970s, Mary Dinsmore Ainsworth conducted pioneering studies in the field of disease using the experimental paradigm of the “strange situation”, With which he evaluated the behavior of children facing separation from their mother.
Through his famous research, Ainsworth identified three models of affection: assurance, avoidance or rejection and ambivalent or resistant. The latter two can in turn be classified as “unsafe condition”. While 65% of infants showed a safe pattern of affection, 20% of infants were classified as avoidant and 12% as ambivalent.
Research has shown that the type of condition remains stable throughout life in most people, although this can sometimes change, for example due to the educational style adopted by parents or important life events, such as the death of a loved one.
In 1987, Cindy Hazan and Phillip R. Shaver studied tilt in adults using multiple-choice questionnaires and found that the proportion in which they exhibited safe, avoidant, and ambivalent patterns of affection was very similar to that that Ainsworth had found in babies.
Avoidant condition in children
In the experience of Ainsworth’s strange situation, children with avoidant affection easily get angry, they didn’t look for their mother when they needed herThey seemed indifferent to their absence and ignored them or behaved ambivalently upon their return. However, they were sometimes very social with strangers.
In contrast, babies with a loving self-confident model were confident in exploring the environment and returned to their mothers from time to time, seeking safety. If the mother left the room, the little ones would cry and complain, and when she returned they would be happy. They also had a lower tendency to anger.
Ainsworth hypothesized that the attitudes of these children concealed states of emotional distress; Subsequent studies showed her heart rate to be elevated, which supported the hypothesis. According to Ainsworth, the avoidant babies had learned that communicating his emotional needs to the mother did not work and therefore not.
This was due to the fact that they had had experiences of rejection of their approach behaviors and promotion of affection by the main character of affection. He also claimed that his parents often did not meet his needs.
The behavior of babies with this type of attachment is paradoxical in that it allows them to maintain a certain closeness with loved ones which gives the baby a sense of security while at the same time. prevents them from responding by rejecting the approach, According to Ainsworth.
Several studies have investigated the characteristics of the disease in adults using self-report questionnaires. The preventive condition is divided into two differentiated patterns in adulthood: the avoidant-contemptuous and the avoidant-fearful. The presence of either model is likely due to specific life experiences.
The avoidant-contemptuous style manifests itself in an exaggerated need for independence and self-sufficiency, as well as to prevent others from depending on one of them. Many people with this attachment model find that interpersonal relationships are irrelevant and deny the need for intimacy with others, so try not to over develop them.
People with this type of disease often hide and repress their feelings, they move away from others when they feel rejected by them and they behave in a way that prevents them from experiencing such rejection. Different authors consider that the avoidant-contemptuous schema has an emotional protective function.
Likewise, those categorized as avoidant-fearful affection state that they want to have intimate interpersonal relationships but find it difficult to trust and depend on others for fear of being hurt emotionally. Therefore, they feel uncomfortable in intimacy situations.
This pattern was most frequently identified in people who have experienced significant duels or who have suffered trauma during childhood and adolescence. In many cases, they feel dissatisfied with themselves and the people with whom they have developed affectionate relationships.