How Does Early Life Trauma Shape Disorganized Attachment Style

Is Childhood Trauma the Root of Disorganized Attachment



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Severe childhood trauma is considered to be the cause of disorganized attachment style. Although trauma may manifest in many different ways, this particular style is believed to have its roots in traumatic events when an attachment figure — someone on whom a child depends for survival — becomes an instrument of terror instead of safety and comfort.

For instance, a child who was subjected to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse may grow up with a disorganized attachment. Also, a child who witnesses a parental figure engaging in aggressive or violent behaviour toward another person may develop this attachment style while growing up. Although abuse and desertion are traumatizing as well, they are more likely to cause anxious or avoidant attachment types.

In terms of developing any attachment style, it does not have anything to do with whose experiences were more or less traumatic. Instead, it is determined based on how the trauma affected the individual’s relationship with the parental figure.

A parental figure who was abusive toward the children or other persons in front of the child transforms into a cause of terror in the event of disorganized attachment. This is why, the child learns to disregard this person who was once meant to be an anchor of protection in order to survive.

Although the child is fearful of the parent figure, still he or she is reliant on this parent. Thus, the child tries to act in ways to defend themselves from harm since they feel stuck in this setting. However, because abuse does not adhere to any logical pattern, they never know what to anticipate or how to act appropriately.

They eventually become acquainted with feeling insecure and unsettled in close relationships. Therefore, despite their desire for the love and security of an intimate connection, they lack the skills that are necessary to feel secure and cherished in one.

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This article is intended for educational and awareness purposes only. Please seek professional guidance for more information.

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