New Evidence Shows Life Sucks And It’s Because Of Your Childhood (Attachment Theory)

New Evidence Shows Life Sucks And It’s Because Of Your Childhood (Attachment Theory)


A central tenet of attachment theory is that
a person’s relationships in adulthood stem from a history of attachment, dating back
to our earliest relationship. That is, the bond we formed with our mother,
father or other caretaker after birth. Our first relationship is often thought to
set the stage for future relationships as we grow and move forward. So then does this mean that if you experienced
bad relationships in childhood that you are doomed to have continued terrible relationships
throughout life? There exist different theories of thought
regarding this of which we will examine in order to best answer this question. First, we must look at it from the very beginning,
starting with the first relationship we’ve ever had. At birth, we immediately recognize our mother’s
scent and the sound of her voice from being inside the womb. It is a familiar welcome into a new, unfamiliar
world of life. So, from this point, how do our first attachments
evolve? In 1964, Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson
studied 60 babies for the first 18 months of life in order to uncover the answer to
this question. They examined factors such as separation anxiety,
stranger anxiety and social referencing or the extent that a child looks to their caretaker
to check how they should respond to something new. They found that a baby’s attachments develop
in four stages. From birth until six weeks of age, a baby
is thought to be asocial, meaning that they will react and smile to different stimuli,
whether it be social or non-social. For instance, they might smile at a toy just
as much as they smile at mother. From six weeks to 7 months of age, infants
go through the indiscriminate attachment phase. They prefer human company though most will
respond equally to any caregiver. After three months old, babies will start
preferring familiar faces over unfamiliar ones. Specific attachment starts from 7 to 9 months
of life. This is when babies start having a strong
preference for a single attachment figure, such as mom. The baby looks to mother for security, comfort
and protection. It is during this time when babies become
uncomfortable around strangers and cry when separated from their mothers. Some will express more anxiety than others. Nevertheless, the presence of separation anxiety
is evidence that an attachment has been formed. This initial attachment usually fully develops
by baby’s first year. Strongly attached babies tend to have mothers
who respond quickly to their demands whereas weakly attached babies have mothers who fail
to interact. Finally, multiple attachments begin to form
at 10 months onward when babies gradually grow more independent and form relationships
with more than just mother, including other people and family members. Psychologist Erik Erikson developed his theory
of psychosocial development, which discussed potential conflicts that can erupt during
this time in life. According to Erikson, from birth until the
first year, we go through a stage of life known as trust vs. mistrust. As infants, we need to be able to trust that
our caregivers will be there to provide us with our basic needs. If our needs go unfulfilled, we may grow up
to be suspicious and mistrustful. Erikson formulated a total of 8 stages but
for the sake of not wanting to overwhelm or bore you with too many theorists’ stages,
we won’t go into that now. Instead, we’ll discuss monkeys, rhesus monkeys
to be exact. At one point, behaviorists believed that babies
formed an attachment to whoever fed them. Food was thought to be the basis for an infant’s
love. This was disputed by Harry Harlow’s study
of rhesus monkeys in the 1950’s and 60’s. He separated baby rhesus monkeys from their
mothers to examine their attachment styles in different ways. By today’s standards, this study would of
course be considered highly unethical, but it was groundbreaking for the time. It taught us a lot about the primary motivating
factor behind attachment. Harlow placed the baby rhesus monkeys in cages
with two surrogate mothers, one that provided food but was made of wire and another covered
in soft, comfortable cloth. The results of the experiment showed that
the monkeys preferred and spent most of their time with the comfortable mother even though
it did not provide them with milk. The monkeys only went to the wire mother when
hungry then quickly returned to the cloth mother. When frightened, the monkeys took refuge with
the cloth mother. This experiment reaffirmed the idea that infants
bond to touch and cling to a caretaker for emotional support, not just for nourishment. Overall, however, the monkeys that were separated
from their mothers and had grown up with the surrogates were shown as adults to be more
timid, easily bullied by other monkeys, had more difficulty with mating, and had a higher
struggle interacting with other monkeys. In this way, the lack of care at a young age
showed a lower quality of life for these little guys. This was mainly due to social deprivation
during critical stages of development. World War II, unfortunately, had also provided
us with an abundance of information about the consequences of mother-child separation
on development. John Bowlby, the father of attachment theory,
was the first to attempt to chart the adverse effects of maternal deprivation. Many of these children had experienced mental
and social problematic behaviors. Like the monkeys who grew up without a living
caregiver in the proceeding Harlow experiment, the orphaned children from the war experienced
a lower quality of life and tended to revert inward, withdrawing into themselves for emotional
comfort. Psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, was a student
of John Bowlby. She applied his lessons and came up with categories
of relationships and attachment styles. She did this by devising an experiment in
the 1970’s called the “Strange Situation.” This experiment observed babies in a room
with their mothers and created an awkward situation for the child to examine the strength
of the relationship with their mother. The baby would start off in the room alone
with mother then a stranger would enter the room and take a seat. After some time, the stranger would begin
interacting with the child with mother still in the room. When given a cue, the mother would then get
up and exit the room, leaving the child alone with the stranger. The child’s reactions would be monitored
before the mother would return. The response was measured to determine what
type of attachment style the child had with mother. Babies who had a secure attachment style with
their mothers felt comfortable to play around the room using their mothers as a secure base
as long as she was present in the room with them. When the stranger first entered, the secure
baby was initially unsure but looked to mother that it was okay and became reassured. When the stranger attempted to play with the
child, the baby engaged but remained close to mother. When mother left the room, the baby cried
and was inconsolable when the stranger tried to comfort the child. The baby was at ease once the mother returned. This type of reaction in the child showed
a secure attachment style because the baby was easily reassured once the mother returned
into the room and quickly returned to play. A secure attachment implies that, in the home,
the parents are emotionally available, perceptive, and responsive to the infant’s needs. This is the best kind attachment that is said
to lead to healthy adult relationships later on in life. A securely attached child-parent relationship
is said to be present in 55 to 65% of cases. So, what about in the rest of the population? Aside from secure attachment, Mary Ainsworth
devised 3 other forms of attachment known as avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment,
and disorganized attachment. With an avoidant attachment style in the strange
situation, the baby did not use mom as a secure base and often did not even flinch when mom
left the room. When the mom returned, the baby acted as if
she was not even there and just continued playing. The child was mostly indifferent to whether
she was in the room or not. This style is said to be present in 20 to
30 % of cases and is thought to occur when parents are emotionally unavailable in the
home, unresponsive and neglectful. The internal working model is as such, “mom
doesn’t respond to my emotions so I will just try to be more independent.” The infants protect themselves by dissociating
contact with the normal need for connection. Emotions are more repressed using a “deactivating”
strategy with regard to attachment. This may lead to a greater likelihood of aggression
later in life. Ambivalent attachment occurs in 5 to 15% of
cases. In the strange situation experiment, infants
with this attachment style were more alert of the whereabouts of mother while playing
in the room. They were very clingy and became very upset
when she left the room. Upon mom’s return, however, the baby was
not comforted. Instead the child reacted with fits of anger. In the home, this attachment style implies
that the mother is inconsistently available. Meaning, when she is available, she is often
preoccupied with something else or not completely attuned to the infant in her responses. Infants with an ambivalent attachment style
are often more anxious, clingy and demanding, which characterizes their adult relationships
later in life. Finally, in the disorganized attachment style,
prevalent in 20-40% of cases and up to 80% in situations of abuse, infants were not soothed
by contact with the mother. They displayed disorganized patterns of behavior,
whereby they might move towards mother as she left the room then away, then freeze or
go into a corner. In essence, their reactions were scattered
and all over the place. In the home, this attachment style is thought
to stem from physical or sexual abuse histories, psychologically disturbed parents, or parents
with substance abuse issues. Clearly this kind of relationship is not functional,
producing a situation of “fright without a solution,” whereby the caregiver is a
source of danger instead of comfort. This results in a disorganized state of mind
for the infant, creating difficulty with relationship formation later in life. What the strange situation study shows us
is that patterns of interaction that children have with caregivers shape their developing
minds, leading to various models of relationship formations. These early bonds color our relationships
throughout life by forming an initial framework to go by and build on. Insecure attachments when young tend to cause
difficulty for future relationships which may lead to overall dissatisfaction in our
lives. We should mention, however, that it is possible
for children to have a different attachment style with another caregiver aside from the
mother, such as the father. So, it is entirely possible that a child could
be insecurely attached with the mother but securely attached with the father. But attachment style may not all be entirely
the fault of the parents so if you fell into one of the three insecure categories, don’t
go blaming mom and dad just yet. An alternative theory proposed by Kagan in
1984 discusses the role that the child plays in attachment in that the child’s temperament
may have different impacts on how parents respond. This theory was supported by research from
Fox in 1989, finding that babies with an “easy” temperament, or those who follow steady eating
and sleeping routines while being accepting of new experiences, are more likely to develop
secure attachment styles with their parents. This has to do with being more agreeable and
therefore easier to bond with. Another temperament style, known as “slow
to warm up,” characterized those babies who took a while to get used to new experiences. Babies with this temperament style are more
likely to have insecure-avoidant attachments. Then we have babies with a “difficult”
temperament who function on irregular eating and sleeping schedules while rejecting or
being stubborn to new experiences. These babies are more likely to have insecure-ambivalent
attachments. This shows us that attachment doesn’t go
one way but is instead based on a combination of both the parents’ and child’s behavior. So, does early attachment style determine
your relationships and quality of life in adulthood? If you were in one of the three insecure attachment
styles as a child, don’t fret. There are plenty of theorists who don’t
believe that attachment style cements your fate. There are basically two perspectives on whether
attachment styles in early childhood are permanent or not. The prototype perspective of attachment claims
that early experiences continue to play an influential role in attachment behavior throughout
our entire lives. But the revisionist perspective provides hope
for those who were insecurely attached, asserting that early representations of relationships
can be modified by new experiences over time. In this second perspective, early attachment
style may not necessarily reflect patterns of relationships later in life. One article by Chris Fraley explored mathematical
models of each of these two perspectives in a longitudinal study in order to obtain data
from meta-analysis to better understand which one was more accurate. The results indicated that attachment security
was moderately stable across the first 19 years of life. Farley notes, however, that his study has
many limitations. Thus, it may be best to interpret the findings
with a certain degree of scrutiny. What category did you fall under as a child? What about now? Do you find your relationships now are impacted
based on your early attachment style with your parents? We realize it’s a lot to soak in so take
your time and then let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
Sociopath vs Psychopath – What’s The Difference?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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  1. I was never close to my parents. I was only happier with my grandparents, never wanting to leave their side. When I was being picked up to take home…I cried. Was adopted by them later thought along with my siblings

  2. I born with love. My family love me. I constantly feed 😅 when I grow up I feel like I don’t need love or attention. I want to give love and care to other people. When I facing a hard time. I overcome it easily. I see many people acting up. I’m like idc. Poor them. They don’t have a fully love background like me🤗

  3. Think about Royal family. When they were away for several days or weeks and kids were raised by nannies. Including wealthy that kids were confused who is real mother. Nanny? Maid? Secretary?

  4. I'm autistic so this is not true for me my during my childhood I didn't talk to anyone I also have savant syndrome I have asd

  5. The best part of the infographics is that they talk about everything I learned in college classes about all the topics they cover, very well informed and well made

  6. It depends on each individual! For example in Asian countries many successful people came from poor family, abusive family, or early death of the parents but still they manage to succeed. The thing is they already exposed of how reality of life works at such a young age!

  7. Abuse always follows you but it doesn’t have to control you

    The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg

    You ultimately choose how much it effects you

  8. I never had parents love when i was a child coz none were there and hated eachother, and now as in mid thirties me too i dont find love in my relationships if i ever start one 😐

  9. I've come to find that I will never be happy for the rest of life regardless. So my plan is to use my life to improve everyone else's.

  10. Reminds me of the video of the two little boys playing on a slide and one was talking to the other one about how fun the slide was, and the other kid’s laugh scared the other kid and that kid looked at his parents scared as he wasn’t sure if he should be scared or not. Haha …um ya, i gave myself a headache reading that.

  11. I can remember memories from extremely early on. I can remember my 3rd birthday from start to finish. Even entire school days from back then. It’s crazy

  12. Where I'm from everyone has the same problem if not worst here you see new faces every 2 minutes languages you don't know it's not my fault it's a big city problem

  13. Mabe we should start putting babies to play together from birth and encourage friendships in school instead of telling everyone to be quite all day

  14. Cant really remember anything before you know how to speak because at least my brain connects images with describal words so if I couldn't speak any language I couldn't think idk but yes basically

  15. My mom was insane when I was born so I was immediately taken away from her I only knew who my dad at age 19 , I am an introvert and I Suffer from depression and have difficulties forming Any sort of reasonable relationship, I keep to myself and enjoy writing about romance and probably alot of things I hope to get some day, I do hope I get to be better parents to my own kids.

  16. I wasnt really a child when I was a child. I was working to make some money, even though my parents are millionaires with their trucking company,i still desires more money, money I made. I alway had an eye for money. Some call me ungreatful, I always say, if there's a chance to get more money I'll always take it. I'm running that trucking company now, its worth 13 million dollars.

  17. People are really acting like this is shocking. People that come from broken homes are more likely to suffer from mental illness, to be poor and to go to jail. The moral of the story is don't get divorced and don't beat your kids, you would think it's a simple concept…

  18. It is entirely the parent's fault- they cause they unhealthy relationships and also share their DNA, making us who we are.

  19. This is a simple version of what we teach the students in pedagogics.
    Based on the socialphilosophical ideas of Axel Honneth on 'anerkennung' (No english word exist)
    It's called early-emotional damage.

    We also use a psychiological perspectice on childhood attachment, based on theories of Daniel Stern..

    And alot more! Pedagogics use these theories to develop professional practice for caregivers or 'pedagogs' as they are called here in the Northern part of Europe.

  20. Funny part is that my mother told me that I'm very quiet through out my 13years of life and then I turned 14 and Vietnam starts…

  21. look my parents were black and white well my mom was white but the thing is even if she came from france there some things you’ll wonder when i used to disobey her two or three times i would get whipped by the belt but when i turned 12 it all stopped now l’m 20 yrs and my mom would just keep quiet and look i feel bad

  22. This is actually fairly inaccurate. A lot of the "facts" used were either left field theories or just flat out debunked information.

  23. My mom left when I was 3 years old and my dad got a gf who abused me and my dad but it’s cool because my mom came back like 5 years later and we really close now

  24. I’d like to see a video on how abuse of children affects them. Abuse of various kinds, including “emotional abuse”, and from both parents. And how does divorce affect kids. And how neurotic, controlling parents affect kids. I’d like to see a video on that.

  25. Why a blackman with a white woman,its like you and many other media are pushing it,funny how you never really see a white man with a black woman,its always the other way around

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