Post on this topic added Wednesday, February 26, 2014


PRENOTES ch27 Earned Attachment


“healthy maturation, facilitating a movement toward an “earned” secure/autonomous adult attachment states (siegel/tdm/287)”


“Studies of those individuals who appear to have had suboptimal attachment histories but receive “earned” secure/autonomous AAI classifications in the Main and Goldwyn system reveal that their parenting, even under stressful conditions, is sensitive and nurturing.  “Earned” secure/autonomous status is most often achieved through supportive personal or therapeutic relationships (for example, marriage or psychotherapy).  The implication of these findings is that even with difficult past childhood experiences, the mind is capable of achieving an integrated perspective – one that is coherent and that permits parenting behavior to be sensitive and empathic.  If integration is achieved, the trend toward transmission of insecure forms of attachment to the next generation can be prevented.  Achieving coherence of mind thus becomes a central goal for creating emotional well-being in both oneself and one’s offspring….such integration involves internal processes and their facilitation by interpersonal interactions.  (siegle/tdm/313)”

I still find this suspicious somehow, knowing my own history.  There’s something missing here.  Like if there is such a thing as borrowed attachment and I responded to my children’s innate ability to attach – coupled with my own need to belong – using my drive to attach – difference between drive to attach and ability to attach — and somehow remained in such denial about the reality of my own experience – or somehow formed such a cohesive “goal directed state of mind” as a parent that I just excluded those dis-associated parts of my own past that did not fit the picture of my goal directed state of mind – to not raise my children the way my parents raised me.


  1. We have been leading small groups for three years with over 200 adults many with issues of addiction, borderline personalities, OCD, depression and anxiety disorders. We meet weekly and teach how the brain works and how to related to each other with empathy, synchronization, and attunement. We have seen significant movement toward earned adult attachment. It is right brain to right brain attachment that changes the way a person perceives themselves and builds resilience. Add to this the work we do in groups with the changing of implicit memory interpretation and we have seen significant change. It is our conclusion that new earned secure attachments are possible in small groups and do lead toward significant changes in the life outcome.

    Ron Ovitt
    SOZO Living With Joy

    • Thank you very much for posting, Ron. My computer usage has been in sputter mode since a nasty Trojan virus possessed my computer. I very much appreciate your description of your work! I am grateful to hear that this approach to the realities of human needs DOES exist, though unfortunately certainly nowhere near where I live. Impressive!

      If you would post here a reply to this that includes your description of earned secure attachment I would sure appreciate it! Many thanks!

  2. It does work but not by magic and without the intermediary of either a significant other or a therapist. The innate abililty to learn new behaviors is available to us with will and modeling from others and these new behaviors and thoughts and feelings help to bypass the old ones up until our death. However, it is better to do this work with a trained therapist that knows attachment theory, research and the presentation of insecure attachment symptoms. Then by attaching to the therapist and by digesting old wounds (that are stored in the body and brain, not just the brain), it is possible to develop earned secure attachment.

    • I wouldn’t give it much more of a 5% odds that those of us who most need the kind of therapy you describe have it available – either because of cost factors, or our rural living that removes access from us.

      Finding therapists well trained in attachment — its whole developmental spectrum across the lifespan – is probably more of a most fortunate (lucky) find than most who need this help most will ever experience. A tragedy perhaps nearly as great as the trauma and abuse in our early relationships that so harmed and changed us in the beginning.

      So most of us have to figure out how to ‘do this’ mostly on our own, ‘flying from the seat of our pants’ so to speak.

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