What is Attachment?
Attachment is a special emotional relationship that involves an exchange of comfort, care, and pleasure. The roots of research on attachment began with Freud's theories about love, but another researcher is usually credited as the father of attachment theory.
John Bowlby devoted extensive research to the concept of attachment, describing it as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). Bowlby shared the psychoanalytic view that early experiences in childhood have an important influence on development and behavior later in life. Our early attachment styles are established in childhood through the infant/caregiver relationship.
In addition to this, Bowlby believed that attachment had an evolutionary component; it aids in survival. "The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals [is] a basic component of human nature" (Bowlby, 1988, 3).
Characteristics of AttachmentBowlby believed that there are four distinguishing characteristics of attachment:
- Proximity Maintenance - The desire to be near the people we are attached to.
- Safe Haven - Returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety in the face of a fear or threat.
- Secure Base - The attachment figure acts as a base of security from which the child can explore the surrounding environment.
- Separation Distress - Anxiety that occurs in the absence of the attachment figure.