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What Is Attachment Disorder And How Does It Affect You?

Jun 1

Attachment disorder is a mental or behavioral illness that makes it difficult for a person to form and sustain connections.

These issues are particularly prevalent in youngsters. When a kid is unable to establish a consistent emotional connection with a parent or primary caregiver, problems might arise.

Adults may not have a formal diagnosis of attachment disorder, but they may have attachment problems. These might be the outcome of neglected or undiscovered childhood attachment difficulties.

This page defines attachment disorders, as well as their many types and symptoms. We also talk about different treatment options and when it's better to consult a doctor.


The cornerstone is attachment theory

The establishment of emotional bonds between individuals is the subject of attachment theory. Early experiences with a parent or primary caregiver have a significant impact on how a person learns to form and sustain relationships.

Initially, psychologists looked at and categorised the many forms of attachment that might occur throughout childhood. Researchers eventually created the Adult Attachment Interview to distinguish between the categories in adults. The questions focus on the sort of connection an adult had as a child with their main caregiver.

Adults have attachment styles comparable to children's attachment types. The following are the details:

  • Secure: A secure attachment means that an adult has a strong emotional bond with their main caregiver. They have less worry in their interactions and are at ease in them.
  • Adults who have these attachments dislike being touched and value independence in their relationships. As a child, their caretaker may not have been aware of their requirements.
  • Adults with these attachments are worried or distracted, and their relationships are insecure. A kid may develop this attachment type if a caregiver's availability is intermittent or unexpected.
  • Adults with this attachment type may have strong or erratic connection patterns, such as a need for intimacy followed by a desire to push others away. It might be the outcome of childhood maltreatment or trauma.

Attachment problems may be divided into numerous groups

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Problems, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) professional diagnostic criteria identify two categories of attachment disorders.

However, it's worth mentioning that the criteria for each are based on the symptoms of children.

Attachment disorder known as reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a form of attachment disorder. Reactive attachment disorder is often caused by early childhood trauma or neglect (RAD).

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children with RAD may:

  • They exhibit little or no emotion while they're with their caretakers, and they look unhappy, frustrated, despondent, or afraid since they can't seem to calm down when they're worried

If the kid does not get adequate treatment, the signs of RAD may arise or persist into adulthood. Adults may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • With difficulty, interpreting emotions
    People with low levels of trust have a tougher time forming relationships because they are averse to love, anger issues, a negative self-image, and impulsivity/detachment

Uninhibited social engagement disorder

Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) may develop as a result of social neglect and a lack of consistent connection to a main caregiver during the first two years of life.

In foster children, DSED symptoms are prevalent. The following are some examples:

  • sociability at its highest eagerness to approach people and interact with them social barriers are maintained to a minimum hyperactivity social barriers are kept to a minimum

If a child with DSED is not properly treated, the issue may develop or continue into adulthood. The following behaviors may be shown by an adolescent or adult with DSED:

  • Hyperactivity, an excess of trust in people they don't know well, and a lack of social awareness are all symptoms of a lack of social awareness
  • A penchant for asking invasive inquiries of strangers, as well as other actions exhibiting a lack of restraint

Is it possible that this has anything to do with dissociative identity disorder?

The occurrence of at least two separate personality states is a symptom of dissociative identity disorder (DID). Medical practitioners traditionally referred to the ailment as multiple personality disorder (MPD).

Those with disrupted connection, according to Trusted Source, may have dissociation later in life.

What causes dissociative disorders is still a mystery to researchers. They may develop as a consequence of childhood sexual or emotional abuse, according to certain theories.

DID affects 1–3% of the population, whereas dissociation symptoms are more frequent in general.

The "alters," or alternative personalities, of a person with DID are unknown to them. While the alters were present, the "primary" personality simply notices that time has gone.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of the condition. Others may notice, and the individual may have the following experiences:

  • A lack of clarity concerning their genuine identity Changes in behavior, awareness, and memory as a consequence of a feeling of alienation from oneself and the world around them
  • Memory loss occurs when personal information or ordinary experiences are forgotten
  • Physical pain sensitivity is reduced

Attachment problem and adult relationships

Childhood attachment issues may have a negative impact on adult relationships, thus more study is required in this area.

A person with attachment disorder may have difficulty trusting people or feeling safe and secure in their interactions. As a consequence, they may find it difficult to form and sustain friendships and sexual relationships.


Adults with untreated RAD or DSED from infancy may have the following symptoms:

  • Emotional disturbance difficulties in social situations low self-confidence
  • Anxiety, depression, and detachment are all symptoms of drug misuse


Because attachment disorders in adults are not yet defined in the DSM-5, an adult is unlikely to be diagnosed with this illness.


Psychotherapy is occasionally used to treat an attachment problem in children, and it may also assist an adult with a symptom of the illness.

Attachment therapy or couples counseling may be beneficial to adults. Attachment therapy aims to help people overcome the negative consequences of early attachment experiences.

Couples counseling may help individuals see how an attachment problem is affecting their relationship. With this knowledge and the help of a therapist, couples may develop skills and ways to strengthen their relationship.



A person's personal connections as well as their general quality of life might be harmed by an attachment disorder. On the other side, treatment may be helpful.

Psychotherapy assists in identifying and comprehending undesirable thoughts and behaviors that may be harming one's relationships. After addressing these issues, a person may develop effective skills and coping processes.


When should you consult a physician?

Treatment should preferably start while a kid is young. Whether or whether a kid has an attachment disorder, any child who has been neglected or maltreated will almost likely need psychiatric help.

Anyone who feels their beliefs or behaviors are negatively affecting their relationships should consult with a doctor or psychologist.

Anyone who has been the victim of abuse as an adult may benefit from talking to a therapist about it. Unresolved past issues may be influencing present views and actions.


Summary Because attachment disorders are only recognized in children by clinical criteria, an adult is unlikely to be diagnosed with one.

If a child with an attachment disorder does not get appropriate treatment, the symptoms might worsen or remain into adulthood, causing social and relational problems.

Anyone who has experienced childhood abuse or neglect should get help from a doctor or psychologist, particularly if the condition is interfering with their relationships.