**Attachment Styles from Collin’s Article


Collins, N. L., Ford, M. B., Guichard, A. C., & Feeney, B. C. (2006). Responding to need in intimate relationships: Normative processes and individual differences. In M. Mikulincer & G. Goodman (Eds.), Dynamics of romantic love: Attachment, caregiving, and sex. New York: Guilford.  (pages 149-189)


Information regarding these writers’ description of attachment patterns as contained in this article on pages 151-153:

“Although the need for security is believed to be universal, adults as well as children will develop characteristic strategies for coping with distress and regulating feelings of security;  and these strategies are thought to be contingent, at least in part, on an individual’s history of regulating distress with attachment figures….This idea has led researchers to identify systematic individual differences in attachment style in infants and adults….Bowlby (1973) postulated that these individual differences are rooted in internal working models of the self (as worthy or unworthy of love and care) and others (as responsive or unresponsive in times of need), which develop0 in the context of transactions with early caregivers and other important attachment figures.  Working models of attachment are thought to be cognitive-affective-motivational schemas that regulate the attachment memory, and cognition in attachment-relevant contexts….”

“These individual differences in attachment style are thought to be rooted in underlying differences in working models of self and others, and they can be understood in terms of rules that regulate the attachment system and guide cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to emotionally distressing situations….For example, secure attachment is organized by rules that allow acknowledgement of distress and turning to others for comfort and support when needed.  In contrast, avoidant attachment is organized by rules that restrict acknowledgment of distress and inhibit dependence on others (a deactivating strategy), whereas anxious attachment is organized by rules that direct attention toward distress and attachment figures in a hypervigilant manner that inhibits autonomy and self-reliance (a hyperactivating strategy).  Consistent with these assumptions, research indicates that secure and insecure adults differ systematically in the way they regulate distress and in their tendency to seek proximity to and support from significant others in response to adversity…..As we discuss in greater detail later, these different strategies for coping with one’s own distress have important implications for understanding how individuals respond to the emotional distress of others.”


I would note here that these writer’s are following the accepted format of considering that all insecure attachment patterns are organized.  They are not.  There are patterns of disorganized-insecure attachment that are the ones that are most likely to involve mental illness.  As with the other attachment patterns, they all originate in response to early caregiver interactions with infants and young children as their right emotional social brain is growing and developing.

There are also two other attachment styles that are mentioned occasionally in research literature:  unclassified and earned secure.  Unclassified attachment may well be the same thing as what is called the disorganized-insecure pattern.  The earned secure term is often given to parent-child patterns that do not follow the abusive patterns the parent was exposed to during their own development.


We also need to realize that all attachment styles can be actually watched as they operate in the brain through new brain imaging techniques.  When a person avoids the recognition of negative emotion there is in effect a sort of ‘block’ within the brain that keeps the information from that person’s awareness.  The brain can be seen to be processing the negative emotional information even though it cannot be consciously accessed.  Importantly, the brain can be seen to be using terrific amounts of energy as it blocks access to these emotions.

“Adult attachment researchers typically define four prototypic attachment styles derived from two underlying dimensions….  The first dimension, labeled anxiety, reflects the degree to which individuals worry about being rejected, abandoned, or unloved by significant others.  The second dimension, labeled avoidance, reflects the degree to which individuals limit intimacy and interdependence with others.  Secure individuals are low in both anxiety and avoidance.  They feel valued by others and worthy of affection, and they perceive attachment figures as generally responsive, caring, and reliable.  They are comfortable developing close relationships and depending on others when needed.  Preoccupied individuals are high in anxiety but low in avoidance.  They have an exaggerated desire for closeness and dependence but lack confidence in others’ availability and responsiveness in times of need.  They depend greatly on the approval of others for a sense of personal well-being but have heightened concerns about being rejected or abandoned.  Fearful-avoidant individuals are high in both anxiety and avoidance.  They experience a strong sense of distrust in others coupled with heightened expectations of rejection, which result in discomfort with intimacy and avoidance of close relationships.  Finally, dismissing-avoidant individuals are low in anxiety but high in avoidance.  They view close relationships as relatively unimportant, and they value independence and self-reliance.  They perceive attachment figures as generally unreliable and unresponsive but view themselves as confident and invulnerable to negative feelings.  They attempt to maintain a positive self-image in the face of potential rejection by minimizing attachment needs, distancing themselves from others, and restricting expressions of emotionality.”

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