Attachments are an important part of life. From the attachments you form as a child with your parents to intimate attachments developed as an adult. How you form attachments can be a reflection of how you’ve been treated by others and an integral part of how you value yourself and others. However, not everyone finds it easy to develop secure and fulfilling attachments, which can often be associated with anxiety disorders and other mental health problems.
What Is Anxious Preoccupied Attachment?
Anxious preoccupied attachment is an attachment style in which a person experiences anxiety in their relationships with significant others in their lives. It stems from attachment theory which argues that childhood experiences can affect our relationships later in life.
Attachment Theory, the underlying premise behind attachment anxiety, was a model proposed by British psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s.
Bowlby believed that experiences during infancy and the quality of care given by your primary caregivers can influence your attachment style as an adult.
Continued research in the area went on to define four primary attachment styles in children and how these can be influenced by the behavior of parents or caregivers at a young age:
Secure – when a child is confident that their caregivers can meet their needs
Anxious-Ambivalent – when children are used to caregivers who are inconsistent so seek reassurance and exaggerate distress to elicit a caring response
Avoident – when children perceive their caregiver as indifferent and insensitive so avoid showing distress
Disorganised – when children are used to receiving inconsistent emotional support and often abuse so both crave attention but also show fear towards their caregiver, often associated with childhood trauma