What is it like to have an Attachment Disorder?

28 - Mar - 2023

The lived experience of an attachment disorder can be complex and challenging. From a young age, you may have struggled to form strong and secure attachment bonds with primary caregivers. This can lead to a sense of emotional emptiness or a feeling of being disconnected, insecure and fearful. Anxiety, frustration and helplessness are other strong emotions that might be experienced, negative thought patterns can also lead to further negative emotions. A strong desire to connect with others can often be overpowered by the desire to stay away. Loneliness is therefore an experience that naturally arises.

The experience of an attachment disorder will always be unique but there are certain characteristics that enable the experience to currently be considered in four ways. Firstly, it may be hard to feel secure in an attachment, secondly anxiety and insecurity might predominate, thirdly, a sense of insecurity and a corresponding desire to avoid and finally, feelings of insecurity and a pattern of behaviour that might be seen as disorganised.

For many people with attachment disorders, early experiences of neglect, abuse, or separation can play a significant role in shaping their attachment style. Some may have experienced a lack of emotional responsiveness from their caregivers, while others may have been repeatedly let down, rejected, or even abandoned.

As a result, people with attachment disorders may struggle to develop healthy coping strategies for managing their emotions, particularly when it comes to forming relationships. Some may have an almost overwhelming need to remain close to others, while others may feel a need to withdraw from close contact.

In some cases, people with attachment disorders may also struggle with emotional regulation, frequently experiencing intense emotions that are difficult to control. This can lead to impulsive behaviors, such as binge eating, substance abuse, or self-harm.

One of the most challenging aspects of an attachment disorder is the impact it can have on relationships. People with attachment disorders may struggle to form close bonds with others, leading to a sense of loneliness and social isolation. They may also struggle to trust others, leading to heightened anxiety and suspicion.

For some, the difficulty in forming secure attachment bonds may also lead to a fear of intimacy or a reluctance to commit to relationships. This can create a vicious cycle that reinforces feelings of isolation and loneliness.

In addition to interpersonal challenges, people with attachment disorders may also experience difficulties in other areas of life. They may struggle with low self-esteem or a sense of worthlessness, as well as with understanding and managing their own emotions.

Despite these challenges, it is important to recognize that people with attachment disorders can and do recover. Through therapy and other forms of support, individuals can learn healthy coping strategies for managing their emotions and forming healthy relationships.

For many, a key component of recovery is learning to identify and challenge negative patterns of thought and behavior. This may involve working with a therapist to develop new coping strategies or learning to reframe negative self-talk. The journey of therapy can often be experienced firstly as a developing realisation of the full impact of the struggle, followed by a move towards acceptance as self compassion develops and finally being able to make changes that both manage and alleviate the pain previously endured.

Please click here to see which of our team are experienced in working with Attachment concerns.