*Attachment Simplified – Attachments in Therapy

Instead of “mindsight” we have “blindsight”

We have the inability to maintain or restore equilibrium internally or within relationships with others.  No wonder we experience “panic”

We don’t need therapists; we need personal trainers and coaches.  We need mental workouts to exercise corrected patterns in our brains (one we have determined what we need to change).  If it takes 5000 repetitions to train a dog one part of one trick, how many times will we have to repeat our new “learnings” for the structural brain changes we need to be made?  We need brain exercises and rehearsals.

It is hard for us to have the “ability to watch.”  This must be tied to “reflective function”

We can’t tell when others or we are “crossing the center line” because no one ever showed us where that line was.

Brain balance is like playing an internal hemispheric game of catch – back and forth

“All it takes is a splash of yellow on a black wall to let us know there are contrasts in the world.  Jon Allen’s book did that for me.  It was the first time I’d seen the truth about my “condition.”  Nobody else had ever scratched the true surface of what is “wrong” with me.  Nothing ever really touched me inside.  All other “self-helps” were from the outside in, changing my “clothing” but not changing ME.  Nothing ever “fit” before, or addressed or named the true situation I WAS in as an infant and therefore STILL am in.  These writings (Allen, Siegel, Schore) are like the “diving boards” for me to jump into myself.  They are the “jumping off places.”  I hope my book can do that for others.


If attachment is interactive synchrony, stress is defined as an asynchrony in an interactional sequence, and, following this, a period of reestablished synchrony allows for stress recovery. (schore/ar/39)”


Indeed, psychobiological attunement, interactive resonance, and the mutual synchronization and entrainment of physiological rhythms are fundamental processes that mediates attachment bond formation, and

attachment can be defined as the interactive regulation of biological synchronicity between organisms.  (schore, 1994, 2000a, 2000b, 2000h, 2001c).  …. Attachment is thus the dyadic (interactive) regulation of emotion (Sroufe, 1996). (schore/ar/39)”


“Thus, regulation theory suggests that attachment is, in essence, the right-brain regulation of biological synchronicity between organisms. (schore/ar/41)


Schore wrote this chapter in 2001, a presentation for the Seventh Annual John Bowlby Memorial Lecture

Bowlby’s ideas on attachment are “the dominant model of human development available to science”  (schore/ar/33)

Research is demonstrating the “clinical relevance of the concepts of mental representations of internal working models and reflective functions” are two fundamental characteristics of “minds in the making”  (schore/ar/33)

“…the new developments that are recoupling Freud and Bowlby come from neuroscience.  (schore/ar/34)”

Schore states that in his ongoing writings he writes “from a psychoneurobiological point of view, a specification of the structural systems of the developing unconscious in terms of recent brain research.  This work on “the origin of the self”…attempts to document the ontogenetic evolution of the neurobiology of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, which I equate with specifically the experience-dependent self-organization of the early-developing right hemisphere.  (schore/ar/34)”

“the structural development of the right hemisphere mediates the functional development of the unconscious mind…. [and is] the repository of Bowlby’s unconscious internal working models of the attachment relationship.  (schore/ar/34)”

“the system unconscious” (schore/ar/34 & 35) has, according to Schore’s discussion on Freud’s work, “regulatory structures and dynamics”  (schore/ar/35)

is describing a scientific trend toward convergence of “the study of the brain and the study of the mind.  (schore/ar/35)

“the early developing right brain…is the neurobiological substrate of Freud’s system unconscious….A body of research now indicates that the right hemisphere is dominant in human infancy, and indeed, for the first 3 years of life.  (schore/ar/35)

I feel as though I am on the trail of unraveling a great mystery as I approach this chapter.  I want to understand how it was possible that I had so little independent thought before the age of 18.  I want to understand how I endured the thousands of hours of enforced isolation as a child.  I want to understand how I could sit on the side of a mountain at 18 and not think a thought.  I want to understand how exactly I GOT my mother’s mind.  And I want to understand how she GOT her own.

“the right hemisphere contains an affective-configurational representational system, one that encodes self-and-object images

“while the left utilizes a lexical-semantic mode.  In (schore/ar/35)

“greater right than left hemispheric involvement in the unconscious processing of affect-evoking stimuli” in (schore/ar/35)

“unconscious processing of emotional stimuli is specifically associated with activation of the right [unconscious mind] and not left hemisphere [conscious response]” in (schore/ar/35)

p 36 –

“…I suggest that structure refers to those specific brain systems, particularly right-brain systems, that underlie these various mental functions [such as internal cognitive processes like representations and defenses, and content like conflicts and fantasies].  In other words, the internal psychic systems involved in processing information at levels beneath awareness…and structural …models, can now be identified by neuroscience.  (schore/ar/36)”

“…one of the major questions of science, specifically [is], how and why do certain early ontogenetic events have such an inordinate effect on everything that follows?  (schore/ar/36)”

“period of the brain spurt that continues through the second year of life” in (schore/ar/36)

“attachment transactions mediate “the social construction of the human brain” in (schore/ar/36)”

“specifically the social emotional brain that supports the unique operations of “the right mind.”  Attachment is thus inextricably linked to developmental neuroscience.  (schore/ar/36)”

Bowlby placed “attachment at the center of human development.  In (schore/ar/36)

P 37 –

We now know that an infant functions in a fundamentally unconscious way, and unconscious processes in an older child or adult can be traced back to the primitive functioning of the infant.  Knowledge of how the maturation of the right brain, “the right mind,” is directly influenced by the attachment relationship offers us a chance to more deeply understand not just the contents of the unconscious, but its origins, structure, and dynamics.  (schore/ar/37)”

“attachment theory is fundamentally a regulatory theory.  (schore/ar/37)”

“…the psychobiological regulatory events that mediate the attachment process,

and the psychoneurobiological regulatory mechanisms by which “the right mind” organizes in infancy.  (schore/ar/37)”

“…regulation theory describes the mechanisms [notice use of this mechanical term]by which the patient forms an attachment, that is, a working alliance with the therapist.  This construct – created to define the subtle, interactive dynamic relationship between patient and therapist – is the most important conceptualization of the common elements of the different therapy modalities.  Bradley (2000) pointed out that all psychotherapies – psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, experiential, and interactional – show a similarity in promoting affect regulation.  (schore/ar/37)”


I don’t buy this.  I don’t know why.  I have a very clear but still vague sense that there is something contrived yet convenient for the clinical world in believing what Schore is saying in this paragraph above.  But I “smell” something rotten, something wrong, something fishy, something inaccurate and something suspicious with this thinking.

I do not believe that patient’s form attachments to their therapists!  I really really don’t!

A working alliance, yes.  But not a formed attachment.  I do not see these as the same thing.  I see a “working alliance” as a functional, mechanical mechanism.  Mechanism is a mechanical word itself to me.  I think that there is something inflated here.  By saying a patient forms an attachment to a therapist seems to me to be saying that the patient is somehow less than the therapist.  A therapist is not a friend, a lover, a child, a sibling.  If THEY are the ones that need to believe that an attachment to them by a patient is necessary, I personally think there is something wrong with the picture here.

This is, no doubt, my extremely honed and perfected “shame inducer” detector going.  This is NOT a minor issue.  Every time I have this inner sense of “fishiness” I need to pay close attention to what is going on.  It is some sort of a bullshit detector – and here I have been thinking that I don’t have one of those!  I don’t think it operates in a normal or usual fashion, though.  I think it is like a laser light of protection regarding this information that is of such vital, essential, and life preserving value to me – as well as to others who have suffered brain damage from infant abuse.

A working alliance is a “fair and equitable” term that values both the patient and the therapist equally.  It puts them on equal footing.  But it DOES disempower any therapist who has the internal attitude that a client NEEDS to, or HAS to,  form an attachment with their therapist in order to accomplish successful therapy

When this split archetype of sick person vs healer is in effect, the therapist always reserves the “right” to state that if the patient is not “playing the game” by the therapist’s rules, then the patient is not properly motivated, is defensive,  and is showing resistance to therapy.  Well, in these kinds of dichotomies, the patient’s best interests, in my mind, IS to show this resistance.  Because this is a set-up for shaming the client, and therefore allows for elements of DANGER to be present.  This would NOT be a safe environment for a client, and the client (I notice I switched from patient to client) has the very well defined and hard earned RIGHT to acknowledge that this set-up exists – even though the professional world will deny it.

This statement as Schore is making it reflects a professional and clinical bias in favor of the therapist.  And once such a bias is in place within a therapeutic – and here I would qualify it as a “supposed” therapeutic environment – the success of therapy for the client is doomed.  Any shortcomings present in this type of therapeutic environment WILL BE BLAMED on the client.

It does, of course, disappoint me that Schore – who I have up on the highest pedestal because I am desperately looking for answers and because I believe and trust that he has a big part of them – has such a bias that is so obvious to me now that I allow myself to know what I know about this “fishy” feeling.

The moral of the story is probably in part, not to put anybody we look to for information and assistance up on a pedestal.  That is an old tendency of mine.  It is hard to keep myself on equal and balanced footing with EVERYBODY else coming as I do from such a pervasively abusive background.  I need to try to remember that valuing information that someone else has worked hard to obtain, and respecting their minds and their work, does not mean that they are better or “more than” I am.

The moral of the story is also about trusting my gut.  The gut is tied (as I have learned from these writers) to body feelings, and therefore to right brain information processing.  I knew something smelled rotten, and once I allowed myself – and gave myself permission to look at this, I went right to the heart of the matter.

Another moral is to trust that my having survived my horrific infancy and childhood has given me superbly refined abilities in some areas and that I need to not only appreciate these “gifts” but use them as I choose to.

That means if I feel there is an imbalance toward shaming the survivor, or any risk present to threaten the survivor, I need to respect my own observations no matter what even the most supposedly advanced professionals might say to the contrary.  I am, as you are, ultimately my own best expert.

I have a right, as you do, to look for answers to the problems I see that I have.  But I think I can honestly say that if I had all the money in the world and could find and afford the supposed best therapist alive to work with, I still would not trust them.  And that DOES NOT mean that there is anything “dysfunctional” or “wrong” or “sick” with me.  It means that I have been to hell and back, and I do not believe that anyone yet has the ability to truly help me at this point in my life.  So I am writing a book in the process of trying to find a cure for the incredibly complex and deep damage that was done to my brain, my mind, and to my self.

If even the best expert in the field that pertains to my brain damage cannot even detect his own glaring professional bias in order to clearly distinguish between a patient’s attachment to a therapist versus a working alliance between a patient and a therapist, who can I trust?  Consider what I am writing here.  What do you think?  Before you answer, pay very close attention to your body.  You will FEEL the truth even if you want to use words that contradict your own truth.  If you feel defensive and you are any type of professional, please look carefully at your own bias.  If you are in the realm of those damaged by abuse of any kind, and you agree with me, celebrate our mutual empowerment.

Additionally, this current observation adds fuel to my inner fire about finding solutions for healing and brain growth development that do NOT involve any kind of a dependency on therapy except in very particular cases where someone’s life is in danger.  Otherwise, we have survived thus far.  We have very specific gifts that weigh against our dis-abilities.  We need to find both of these categories of information about ourselves.  My guess is that as we find one, we will find the other.  And we will find ways to use our gifts to cure ourselves.  Hang in there with me!  I am again off to the search!

Oh, before we move on there is one more thing I want to comment on here in this writing.  It is about something else that I KNOW from somewhere deep within my self.  This current time in the history of the human race is different from the times of the past.  In the past, it was acceptable for someone who was not completely healed within their selves to attempt to help heal another person.  I believe that time has passed.  I believe that the only truly ethical, professional, and FAIR way to act as a healer NOW is to have as completely as humanly possible, healed one’s self.  And I mean that on all possible levels.

I realize that nobody is perfect.  But I also know that many mental health professionals come from very damaging pasts and though they may have a deep desire to help other people to heal, if they are not deeply healed, “clean” and aware of their own internal states, they are dangerous.  I don’t know about you, but if I saw a scorpion crawling across a chair seat, I certainly would find another place to sit!

  1. I am simply telling you the truth, as I know it:  “Consumer always beware.”


Back to Schore’s writing, and fortunately he is using what I consider to be the less offensive reference to the relationship between a “client” and a therapist in the following.  I still, however, detect an important omission in this following paragraph and will note it for you when I get there.  It is one that surprises me knowing the breadth and depth of Schore’s work!  But it still reflects, in my thinking, another major (yet subtle) professional and clinical bias.

“In other words, this information about attachment regulation, and the emotion-processing right brain is describing the “nonspecific factors” that are common to all forms of clinical treatment, factors particularly accessed in developmentally oriented psychoanalytic psychotherapy (Schore, 2000b).  The major contribution of attachment theory to clinical models is thus its elucidation of the nonconscious dyadic affect transacting mechanisms that mediate a positive therapeutic working alliance between the patient and the empathic therapist [notice here that he does not say the patient is “attached to” the therapist.]  Complementing this, the neurobiological aspects of attachment theory allow for a deeper understanding of how an affect-focused developmentally oriented treatment can alter internal structure within the patient’s brain/mind/body systems.  (schore/ar/37)”

[At the same time I know Schore would contend that it is not the therapist’s internal structures that need altering, it is still a fact that within an attuned empathic dyad the quality of the direct communications between them effect AND CHANGE the correspondingly involved right brain systems involved in both brains during the communication.  This level of communication involves a mutuality that essentially contains this level of POWER.  [SEE SIEGEL ON THIS]  It is, to me, a ludicrous assumption that a therapist can engage with a deeply wounded client and not on some level be changed their self.  Yet to recognize this fact, a therapeutic alliance between client and therapist would have to be one between equals.  I am NOT saying that the therapist is working on their own personal issues during session with the client.  But few have reached the necessary level of objectivity or “cleanness” so as to not be personally affected, at least unconsciously.]


I have to remember that Schore is writing to the crème de la crème.  This is still privileged information even though it is being published by the common press.  Most people who try to read it are not going to be able to decipher it, understand it, apply it.

These writers are not giving us any tools for applying it.  They are telling us either that it is impossible to heal this level of developmental brain damage, or that the only way TO heal it is to find ourselves one of these top level therapists and then be able to afford this “long-term” therapy that they say is necessary in order for us to make any of these changes.

Quality analytical work has, to me, always seemed to be something that was available only to the upper crust population.  To me, that would be about the outermost maybe 3% of the onion  —  probably the outer flaky paper layer of the onion, just the skin – the people who need it least unless they have a genetically transmitted serious mental illness.  Otherwise therapy becomes just another plaything for the rich.  Maybe those who drive the Ferraris, the Lamborghinis, the Rolls Royces of the world can access and afford the kind of therapy these writers are recommending.  But those of us down here walking the streets, riding the bicycles and the city bus lines and the subways, those of us driving the Fords and the Plymouth K cars are, quite obviously, out of luck.  How fair is that?  And how realistic?

The kinds of therapists that most people might find are primarily trained to listen for a set of “symptoms” and then look in a book, the DSM IV, diagnose, and then dish our drugs.  Would you even trust the repair of your automobile to someone who knew nothing more than how to look up the supposed symptoms of your car and then repair it strictly by an auto repair manual?  There needs to be a public outcry, I tell you!  Let me fan the flames!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s