Resonance in Attachment, The Power of And.

“You think, because one and one make two, that you understand two. But, to truly comprehend the nature of two, you must first understand . . . And”. Rumi.

The “And” in Rumi’s deeply moving quote, understood from an attachment perspective and written about in Raising a Secure Child, is resonance. That place where you are attuned to an important other, understood, and completely accepted in all that you are and are not. It is the interwoven fabric, learned and reinforced in early relationship, that provides the foundation of secure or insecure attachment across the lifespan.

To be truly attuned and to engage in (or provide) the experience of resonance one must have (among other capacities) the capacity for empathy (the felt sense of the others experience), self-regulation (ability to calm ones brain and body), self-awareness (ability to identify feelings, self- reflect and perspective take), and an understanding of reciprocity (mutual exchange as one grows both emotionally and chronologically) in relationship.

The most fortunate among us have this experience early in life and carry it forward with them (as security in self and other) from infanthood to adulthood. It is experienced as a deep knowing (accumulated overtime and resting at ones very core) that they matter unconditionally. It is estimated that 60% of all children in the United States are securely attached and in theory have the felt sense of mattering that overtime provides the foundation for their autonomy and belonging /relatedness in the larger world.

When working with parents and children or couples, understanding the individual’s attachment experience (the “And” of their early history) is of primary importance. This is the place we look to learn how one’s belief (their neurobiological blueprint) regarding what can be expected, and how to get needs met in relationship. Attachment research (a field 60 plus years in the making) tells us that by 12 to 18 months of age a child has had thousands of experiences in which their brain and body have responded to the caregiver’s ability to meet or not meet, their needs. It is the response (reinforced many times over through brain firing and wiring) that create the blueprint and become the neurobiological foundation of automatic behavior. That which shows up as belief and behavior and the outermost place we focus in treatment, while understanding that it is the neurobiological response (the neural pathway or pathways hidden from view) that we are working to reconstruct.

Research further tells us that by age 5 (due to the exponential growth of the brain and its rapid firing and wiring) patterns (beliefs, behaviors, neurobiology on autopilot) are fairly cemented. As you can imagine, by the time individuals come to treatment many patterns are set in place. This said, the most hopeful information that research provides us is the validated understanding that through repeated (corrective attachment experiences) new patterns (again showing up as beliefs and behaviors) occur. This is the most beautiful and hope filled aspect of “And”. The you and me in relationship.

There are many reasons treatment is sought. Because the work (my passion ) is in the areas of attachment including trauma, and loss, the individuals and families I get to work with may include; parents who are struggling to understand their child’s behavior, the foster, foster -adopt, or adoptive parent trying to understand and make change for their child and family, the child or teen brought to treatment due to a variety of emotional or behavioral needs, and /or the adult (of any age) seeking to regain self after loss of relationship.

It is understood, again from an attachment perspective, that it is within the safety of relationship that change is created. In supporting and increasing comfort with resonance many shifts in behavior, belief, and the neurobiological (automatic response) began to occur. This doesn’t happen quickly and is dependent on many factors. One of the largest, as noted above, is the capacity or capacities of the participants for trusting that safe relationship can exist. Again, these include, but are not limited to, empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, and ability to consider, reflect, and allow the other (and oneself) to need. In example, is the parent able to reflect on his or her part in the parent -child dance? Is the foster or adoptive parent able to take the needed reflective step back and make space to understand their child’s and their own neurobiological hardwiring and how they may be interacting? Does the child or teen have a supportive other who will engage in this process of understanding each of their histories and how to make change? Will the adult, seeking answers about self, be able to revisit history to gain an improved understanding of their early experiences and learning? Will each be able to engage in the corrective experiences that make new possibilities become realities?

The hope is the capacity does exist (within the individuals and families seeking treatment) or can be provided through the safety of the therapeutic relationship. In my experience it most often does exist in a deeper place that comes to light through nurturing in safe relationship. This along with avenues to understanding how one’s particular way of being (their own attachment style) came to be, identifying and normalizing emotion, solid and safe affect management skills, along with supportive planning is the known roadmap to what John Bowlby (who from his groundbreaking work, beginning in1958, has become known as the father of attachment) termed earned security. This means, the development of a more secure attachment style can be achieved through new relationship at any stage of development.

It is important to note that security exist along a continuum in secure individuals. For the 40% that are not identified as securely attached, it is important to recognize this does not mean pathology exist. It does not mean this at all. It means one has an attachment style (based on experiences particularly in early life) that in essence mean one is more or less comfortable with one of the primary components of attachment. A simplistic way to think about this is the truth that ~ a securely attached person can rely on self and also request help when needed. In essence balancing and offering the major components (autonomy and relatedness /belonging) most often in their day-to-day life and relationships.

Most of us benefit from understanding ourselves in regard to our own attachment style. For information purposes only, it is indicated that one’s true attachment style is most identifiable when under stress. Developmental Psychologist Mary Ainsworth, in the 1960’s and 70’s, lay the foundation for this understanding in her work with children and their parents. The three primary attachment styles (ways of being and relating) include, Secure, Avoidant, and Anxious. In simplistic terms, a Secure individual balances autonomy and relatedness. An avoidant individual tends to dismiss, to varying degrees, relationship or reliance on others and relies more on self. An anxious individual is considered more preoccupied with relationship and tends to rely more on others and less on self. Again, these exist along a continuum varying from person to person and unless in extreme form (causing disruption in functioning) are not considered pathological.

A fourth style known as disorganized attachment, was identified by Developmental Psychologist (and previous student of Mary Ainsworth) Mary Main in the 1980’s in her work which furthered understanding of patterns across the lifespan. It is understood that disorganized attachment holds, at its core, unresolved relational or trauma experiences which cause non predictability and inconsistency. This style can be troublesome both for the individual and those in relationship with this individual. Treatment is indicated to work toward trauma resolution. This said, it is important to recognize not every person who experiences trauma will become disorganized in terms of attachment. The protective factor is relationship, along with temperament, cognitive ability, and /or supportive resources.

Overall, it is the “And” the supportive connection that truly sees and accepts all of who we are that is the primary protective factor. This is true in both foundationally providing security and creating safety for those working toward earned security.

As always, my hope is you find something that resonates here. Resources for further reading and/or support follow.

My deepest care to each of you, LaDonna

Copyright Protected Material: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved. Written content on this blog (Perspective on Trauma) is the property of the author LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW. Any unauthorized use or duplication without written permission of the author/ owner of this web log is prohibited. Excerpts or quotes may be shared in the event the author is fully cited with reference and direction to this blog.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational. It is not intended to provide advice, assessment, treatment, or diagnosis. Content is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, or to engage in an informed treatment relationship within this format. If you or a loved one need support; it is important that you access this care from your own (specifically assigned) health care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the Perspective on Trauma blog. As noted; it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. In the event; support is needed it is your responsibility to seek care from your own health-care provider.

National Hotlines: 
Treatment Referral Helpline: (1-877-726-4727)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (1-800-273-8255)

Photo: Image found on Pixabay

Resources:

Web Based Resources:

Circle of Security International Website and Resources .

Graham, Linda, MFT: The Neuroscience of Attachment.

Kendra, Cherry: The Different Types of Attachment Styles.

Psychology Today. Sundem Garth: Attachment Study Shows that 40% of U.S. Kids are Insecurely Attached.

Books and Literature:

Bowlby, John: (1998) A Secure Base: Parent-Child attachment and healthy human development. London: Basic Books

Copper, Hoffman, Powell: (2017) Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child’s Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom. New York: Guilford Press

Copper, Hoffman, Powell: (2005) The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing Attachment in Early Parent-Child Relationships Illustrated Edition. New York: Guilford Press

Siegel, D.J. (2012). The Developing Mind. How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. 2nd Ed. New York: Guilford Press


28 thoughts on “Resonance in Attachment, The Power of And.

  1. I love this! Rumi’s quotes always enrapture me. And… 😉 your thorough writing here, is informative. “The you and me in relationship” is beautiful. We Are All Connected (whether we acknowledge or like it). And it has been a quest of mine (for years), to uncover more intricacies of what ALL that statement means.
    ❤️🦋🌀〰️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope in time attachment’s influence as well as this critical issue of attunement or resonance it more widely understood.. I believe you are so right that the potential to become more aware and held within exists if we get a good therapeutic relationship.. Anxious attachment is so painful to experience and yet we have to experience that pain to know how to reach for something better.. that has more chance of happening if we can work it out in therapy with good attunement and holding in my experience..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful and insightful comment. It is difficult to walk through the pain of our histories but , as you say, so important to help us move forward to “reach for something better”. Safe relationship holds that safe place for us to do this. I always enjoy reading your experiences and insights. 💗

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  3. Thank you for sharing this about attachment patterns. I have not understood this as thoroughly before when people talk about it. In your perspective and experience do you feel like we can learn to mother ourselves, to feel the love that exists as our true nature? That seems to be what is happening here in recent years after moving through so many inner contractions. Learning how to provide a safe space for all the different parts of self to express themselves. Softening into pain and contraction and suffering.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and reflective comment Kathy. I do agree with the concept of nurturing ourselves. We can most certainly develop a compassionate self, that serves to aide us in this way. This said, I think it is always helpful to have (even one) relationship in which glimpses of our true selves are seen and reflected back. We can all tolerate this to different degrees and these can be very brief. I was struck a few years ago when my daughter and I went to a Ryan Bingham concert. He shared, what most of us would think of us a difficult history. While sharing this he also shared that he had one teacher (though his moves through many schools) for a very brief time along the way in his high school years that encouraged him. He remembered her name and her impact on him and his future. To me this is the power of the And in relationship. It can be very brief, but when we are seen in all of who we are this resonates and opens a path for us to see us. I also think at times, we must develop a strong inner resource, the compassionate self, if you will. 💗

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  4. Thanks as always for your thoughtful and very informative and interesting posts.

    The info about attachment research around kids 12-18 months and how the experiences during this time period helps form their neurological foundation is interesting. When we were adopting T, the hubby and I had always hoped for a kid 2 or younger for the reason around forming a bond and attachment. We were very fortunate he came from a single prior foster home and was in a loving environment.

    It is hopefully and reassuring to know that with treatment, those with challenges related trauma and attachment can be overcome.

    I always can’t help but think and ache for the kids and teens who go through multiple foster homes and negative experiences and all that they have to unpack in the subsequent years.

    I have great respect for the work (your passion) that you do. It’s not easy work, I can imagine, but it also must be so very rewarding!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Ab. I do always hear and feel the commitment and love you hold for T. (The And, for he and you 💗) I appreciate your comment and compliment. This work can be heartbreaking, at times, but always genuinely rewarding. It’s a good way to spend a life.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. WOW LaDonna, I have never read such a profound breakdown of attachment, detachment, and disorganized attachment holds. We just never know how traumatic and the toxicity some attachments can hold. 🤔 This is very insightful my friend. Relationships are more involved than we thought or will probably ever think about and realize. Awesome post LaDonna! 👏🏼 😍 🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful article, LaDonna. The thing that resonates with me the most, is the capacity for change, regardless of the early childhood imprinting. When aware, the possibilities do exist, as you so eloquently write about, to create new ways of being. A lovely post, as always. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re most welcome, LaDonna. Mmm. Yes, indeed, our capacity to change is amazing. Completely agree. Am well, and hope you are too. Have a beautiful weekend, my friend. ❤️❤️

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  7. LaDonna, I have to agree with the others that this is truly a thought-provoking and inspiring article. 🤗 I never really gave the attachment perspective that much thought. Yet, I agree as you noted, that the safety of a relationship is that change is created. The capacity or capacities of the participants for trusting that a safe relationship can exist is evident. Yes, our capacity to recognize and be able to change is awesome. I applaud you, my dear. This is undoubtedly a well-researched and educational read my dear friend!!! Thanks for sharing with us! 😊 😍 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So powerful “You think, because one and one make two, that you understand two. But, to truly comprehend the nature of two, you must first understand . . . And”. Rumi.
    Such an important message, thank you for a lovely post and for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This review of attachments in relationships (or the approach that disavows attachment and relationships) is clearly rendered and certainly helpful. I appreciate your discussion of the fourth style of attachment, which I find sadly resonant though I am better off for knowing. For having words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and sharing your thoughts. The beautiful thing about human attachment is we can continue to move to security ♥️. We all have a particular pattern.

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