twitter facebook stumble upon rss

How Mommy Love Relates to Adult Love

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Love is a complicated thing.

baby girl crawling

Dr. Wendy Walsh: It is parts visual appeal, pheromone compatibility, intellectual decision, and environmental conditions. Those factors notwithstanding, I believe love is even more about our internal attachment style. Much has been written in the mass media about "Attachment Theory" in parenting manuals. Psychologists have been quick to warn parents about the dangers of child/parent separation and its relation to major personality disorders, but less has been written in terms of adult romantic attachment. So, I'm going to attempt it here.

Attachment Theory is a school of thought that holds that everyone has a certain kind of internal attachment organization based on a genetic predisposition and the kind of parenting we received as infants and toddlers. In a nutshell, the theory is this: If a child's basic emotional and physical needs are met by a consistent, primary attachment figure, that child has a darned good chance of growing up to love themselves, to trust people, to trust love, and to seek out partners who actually help him or her recreate that familiar feeling of mother love. Attachment theorists refer to these lucky lovers as having an ability to "securely attach." A lovely picture, isn't it? Unfortunately, people who fall into this attachment category only make up about 20 percent of our American population. The rest of us fall into one of three other clumsy categories, or along a scale where the dance of love is a continual trouncing of each other's feet.

Before I detail the separate attachment categories and scale, let's jump back to a little history to learn how this whole business was discovered. The father of attachment theory was this English physician and psychoanalyst named John Bowlby (1907-1990). He was the fourth of six children in an upper-class household, and his father was a royal surgeon. As was fitting for the time, he saw his mother for an hour a day at teatime, and was shipped off to boarding school at age seven. He was later quoted as saying, "I wouldn't send a dog to boarding school at age seven."

His awareness of his own separation anxiety and maternal deprivation led him to become acutely observant of the emotional injuries that were occurring to wartime children in Great Britain -- namely, the mass evacuation of children from London to protect them from air raids, the rescuing of Jewish children by the Kindertransport, and the creation of group nurseries designed to free up mothers for wartime labor. He worked with delinquent and maladapted children, and was eventually commissioned by the World Health Organization to do a study on the mental health of postwar homeless children. His groundbreaking work, Maternal Care and Mental Health, was published in 1951 -- and for the first time, the psychological community began to see that real life events, rather than Freudian fantasies, were causing real-life emotional trauma to children that affected their personalities. So that's what happened to all the nutcases I (they) date!

Bowlby believed that mother/infant attachment had an evolutionary base, and that it was designed to keep babies in arms and away from predators. But during this protective phase, a side effect was a secure emotional attachment to another human that could be later transferred to a romantic lover, and used for the sophisticated social structures of human society. According to Bowlby, "The infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment." He also said that if that cozy mommy/baby relationship didn't happen, one was doomed as a lover. Well, he didn't say that exactly. What he said was that an attachment injury can have significant and irreversible mental health consequences. That sure sounds like a downer of a love life to me.

Bowlby's 1951 WHO publication accomplished one other major thing. It made hospitals sit up and rethink their visiting policies that used to be designed to keep germs outside, even if they rode on the backs of love. Believe it or not, before 1951, most hospitals would not allow visits by parents of babies and small children -- some of them institutionalized for months! I shudder to think of it. But as Bowlby treated children who had had long hospitalizations, he noticed that parents complained that it was a different child who came home -- a more unruly, angry little monster. Duh.

Now, I'm leaving Bowlby's genius here for a minute to lay a little Dr. Walsh theory on you. So, what else happened in the 1950s that might have affected our homegrown attachment style? Oh yeah, the baby boom! Babies may not have been shipped off to nurseries and boarding schools in America, but there were a whole lot of babies coming down the pipes and surely not enough maternal arms to go around. No wonder the current fascination with "Jon and Kate Plus 8." It's an exaggeration of a wound many, many people have experienced. We love to watch train wrecks, especially when we've already survived one ourselves.

So the war wasn't the only thing causing attachment injuries. The baby boom did too. And it was followed by feminism. I mean, what woman in her right mind would want to stay home with all those children, anyway? And feminism brought its own mixed bag of attachment disorganization. Can you believe I once saw a headline on a 1970 issue of Ms. Magazine that read, "Yes, You Can Leave That Baby!" Then feminism got into bed with capitalism and gave birth to consumerism, and today no woman GETS to stay home with her baby! Ai-yai-yai! What is going on here?!!! Deep breath, Wendy.

Back to attachment theory. Thanks to Bowlby, and many, many other bright thinkers in the area of developmental psychology, the theory has grown into a worldwide research phenomenon and become accepted by psychologists and psychiatrists. Many of these psychologists and psychiatrists specialize in a kind of therapy based on the theory. It is the only psychoanalytic theory that is quantitative. Researchers can count and rate the injuries and connect the dots to adult outcomes. Parent/Infant attachment is now directly related to adult attachment style.



next: I Can't Quit You, Seattle Grace
77 comments so far | Post a comment now
kpmomma November 2, 2009, 11:10 AM

I have been waiting for an article like this. I’ve known people who’s mothers practiced attachment parenting and they are still very attached to their mothers, in an unhealthy way. I often joke, though it’s not really that funny, that if they called their mothers to come and wipe their behinds then the mothers would think nothing of driving the two hours to do just that without a second thought. It’s pretty sad.
Yes, I am a mother. No, I have never practiced attachment parenting. Yes, I home school. No, I am not religious and yes, I do let my children think for themselves and suffer the consequences of making poor decisions. I love them, care for them, and provide for ALL of their NEEDS, not necessarily their wants. There is a difference, which I think many parents fail to recognize.

Anonymous November 2, 2009, 3:17 PM

Attachment parenting gets different results just like anything in life. Don’t base the theory of attachment parenting on the messed up people you have known. I bet you attract freaks in the first place. Attachment parenting is loving and doesn’t have to spoil a child. Wake up and face reality.
P.s. You are creepy. You are not a “momma”. You don’t deserve that honor! Period.
-Jill

StephenDJ December 5, 2009, 3:34 PM
Ron Kestlore June 3, 2010, 1:30 PM

I want to share with you the offer I just found, tought you might be interested, here is the link: http://peerfly.com/x/0/1465/4952/em/

Enjoy your gift

WILMAMoon32 October 3, 2010, 3:35 AM

Don’t you understand that it’s high time to receive the loan, which will realize your dreams.

WEchoindIcodecedd November 2, 2010, 4:28 PM

provigil contraindications [url=http://posterous.com/people/Z2JAuIThvjz] what is provigil medication [/url] provigil medication cost

KIUVDCAutonoumbNMHJH December 30, 2010, 10:34 PM

provigil medication [url=http://blog.bitcomet.com/post/283948]cheap provigil[/url] provigil medication provigil dosage

hornGeateanaermgreen March 7, 2011, 11:09 AM

the green hornet 3d [url=http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/user/downloadthegreenhornet2011]The Green Hornet[/url] green hornet trailer

ambienadurnatrity March 14, 2011, 5:24 PM

no prescription online pharmacy ambien [url=http://posterous.com/people/hdKnwrfRlgxcK]ambien pill identifier[/url] is 20 mg ambien safe

embroidery stabilizers March 23, 2011, 9:34 PM

Thank you for taking the time to write this!

bugatti veyron March 27, 2011, 4:08 AM

Rattling superb visual appeal on this web site , I’d value it 10 10.

wpolscemamymocneseo March 28, 2011, 6:52 AM

Hi there, You have done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this web site.

computer support March 30, 2011, 1:04 PM

Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my website thus i got here to “return the want”.I’m attempting to in finding things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to make use of some of your ideas!!

blackberry playbook case March 30, 2011, 9:36 PM

Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

shopping March 31, 2011, 12:14 AM

You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

wpolscemamymocneseo March 31, 2011, 3:43 AM

Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

wpolscemamymocneseo March 31, 2011, 9:22 AM

I think this is among the most vital information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

שלום לכולם, רציתי לספר לכם על הפעלות ימי הולדת, הצגות תאטרון, ימי הולדת וכיף וימי גיבוש לארגונים ולצוות עובדים,חברת בים בם בום מספקת את כל הפעילויות הנ"ל תוך הקפדה על תוכן איכותי וצוות מיקצועי של אנשי תפעול וביצוע.

Ephedrine HCL Fettverbrennung March 31, 2011, 10:25 AM

Thanks alot for this extraordinary site! I enjoyed reading it! ECA Stacker

wpolscemamymocneseo March 31, 2011, 11:26 AM

hey there and thank you for your info – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this web site, since I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..


Leave a reply:



(not displayed)

     




Avoid clicking "Post" more than once
Back to top >>
advertisement