People often wonder to what extent the experiences we had in childhood, especially those we may have shared with our parents or other relevant personalities, could condition the way we are and relate to each other in the world. adult life.
The human being arrives in the world plunged in the most absolute vulnerability, because it takes several months for him to gain a minimum of autonomy. This is why we depend on others for survival, forging a necessary bond of affection with our immediate environment.
These figures of affection will have to guarantee not only the necessary resources to survive, but also the essential resources to live, because they will be erected as the first source of love and understanding on which the child will place his expectations and desires.
This is why the condition contributes decisively to building the basic foundations of the private sense of security., In a critical age period for emotional and social maturation. It is therefore important to know who we are and why.
The condition: what is it?
Affection is a concept that has been widely studied in the scientific literature, particularly based on John Bowlby’s theories of building our first relationships in childhood.
As a term, it refers to the particular way in which people tend to interact with those with whom they make a relevant connection, including the feelings of intimacy and commitment upon which the subtle bonds of a relationship are built. human.
The condition would be the range on which the social melody would develop, And would plunge its roots in the dawn of the first relationships. In the short period that includes the childhood of any human being, the sense of availability of parents (or others who might be emotionally comparable) before possible harm or threat, would positively shape a person’s view. changing environment in its very nature, becoming predictable and comfortable to explore without fear inhibiting curiosity.
Tilt theories argue that the particular characteristics of the nervous system in this evolutionary period would lead to neuroplastic changes upon which the adult brain would be built a posteriori, although it is impossible to carve out memories that can be deliberately evoked ( as the hippocampus later matures). almost a burst of life). Fear in this evolutionary period would transform vulnerability into helplessness, spreading into every nook and cranny of subjective experience for years to come.
In order to assess how children interact with their affection figures, which is the measure from which they can extract information with which to determine the integrity of any bond and its emotional consequences, Psychology it has the procedure of “Strange situation”. Through this technique, the child is exposed to a structured sequence of encounters and misunderstandings with their primary caregiver and an unknown subject, assessing their reactions to the approach and distancing of the two.
Through the application of this strategy, they were able to identify four different styles of affection, which describe particular ways of feeling and behaving that occur during the interaction. They all play a vital role in understanding how we tend to make connections, not only in childhood, but also throughout the life cycle. We will then stop to sketch a brief description of each of them. and its possible personal or social implications.
1. Safe from affection
Children with secure attachment perceive their parents (or their analogs) as trusted figures, To which they can turn in the event that their environmental investigations accidentally involve a potentially hazardous situation. Children who have this particular style tend to seek their caregivers when they are experiencing a difficult emotion, thereby obtaining relief. When parents disappear, they only feel uncomfortable at first, naturally resuming contact upon return.
Adults with this style of affection experience a general sense of satisfaction in their relationships with others and can establish a relationship framework that facilitates the healthy development of everyone involved. Honesty and trust arise as the fabric with which the seams of friendship or relationship are stitched and can form a deep emotional connection with those they see as deserving. It is the most common form of the disease and acts as a protective factor against psychopathology.
2. Worried or anxious state
Children who have this style of bonding with their parents are not sure that they have the help they might need when needed.. This uncertainty makes the interest in the environment conditioned by fear, so that exploration is limited by latent but constant insecurity. This feeling is exacerbated in cases where parents use the threat of abandonment as a mechanism to control disruptive behavior.
Adults with this style of affection tend to avoid their emotions when they consider that they might be overwhelmed by their intensity, making it difficult to acquire the resources essential to regulate internal experiences. Day to day life is often lived from an ambivalence between approach and rejection, as both generate such a degree of discomfort that the person comes and goes through the gray spaces that border each other. Fear of abandonment and a feeling of inadequacy can be recurrent.
3. Fearful or avoidant affection
The child with this model of affection perceives that any attempt to seek the comfort that his caring figure can bring him will end in a situation of open mockery or contempt, which will also succeed the complete lack of protection and security at the same time. in a bad sense. learned helplessness. This circumstance helps the child to try to adopt a position of self-sufficiency, in an attempt to construct scenarios in which to feel safe without the input of others.
Adulthood, this style of affection is characterized by the deliberate search for loneliness and discomfort in personal relationships.. Independence acquires paramount importance, causing cervical fear in the expectation of commitment to other people in the fields of friendship or couple. Seeking a lonely job and disinterest in forming new relationships can also be common.
4. Disorganized state
Children who develop this particular style have experienced multiple situations with their explicitly threatening affection characters., As they adopt a negligent or even abusive attitude (in the broadest sense of the term). Because the child cannot assume physical or emotional emancipation, he would necessarily remain close to the pernicious influence of his caregivers, manifesting anxiety both in his presence and in his absence (chaotic and disorganized).
This style of affection generates deep imprints on the personality and self-image, which is why it has a closer relationship with the psychopathology of adults and children. A brief review of the available evidence regarding the mental health consequences of unsafe modalities (worrying, fearful and disorganized) will then be conducted.
Links and Mental Health Problems in Adulthood
Several studies aim to explore the possible relationship that is established between childhood affection and the development of psychological disorders during adulthood. Overall, the multiplicity of influences that converge to shape an individual makes it difficult to precisely isolate the role of these early interactions on health, despite ample data suggesting such a link.
There is scientific evidence that insecure inclinations are linked to a higher prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as the clinical expression of obsessive-compulsive symptomatology. The presence of jealousy in relationships sentimental is also more common in those with an insecure pattern of affection and often takes root in an inner feeling of insecurity and fear of abandonment.
Other authors believe that the anxiety condition could be the germ of a later disorder of the personality structure, both group B (histrionic or borderline) and group C (dependent), while avoidance is linked to the homonymous personality disorder (avoidance). In all cases, difficulties in regulating emotional experience appear to be the common factor underlying this extensive psychopathology.
The impact of affected style on mental health is a hot topic in the field of scientific psychology, as it could be an explanatory material of considerable value for understanding the distal risk factors of many quality-limiting mental disorders. life of the population. It is an area in continuous expansion whose surface we have just started to unravel.
It is also important to consider that many studies indicate that tilt should not be erected into a rigid and unchanging reality, but can undergo transformations in the course of life development as a result of personal work and life. building relationships that provide spaces for emotional repair.
A child’s mind holds the potential to build a happy life. Despite the vulnerability that accompanies it at the time of its birth, the first years are elementary in defining who we will be and what paths we will take in the hectic journey of existence. Early social relationships are, in this sense, the key to channeling development towards biological, social and emotional fullness.
Levy, K., Ellison, WD, Scott, LN & Bernecker, S. (2011). Attachment style. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67 (2), 193-203.
Mikulincer, M. and Shaver, PR (2012). An attached perspective on psychopathology. Global Psychiatry, 11 (1), 11-15.