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How Does Attachment Disorder Affect You? What Is It?

Aug 16

A mental or behavioral condition known as attachment disorder makes it challenging for a person to establish and maintain bonds.

Young people are more prone to these problems. Problems may occur if a child is unable to develop a reliable emotional bond with a parent or other main caregiver.

Adults who struggle with attachment may not have an official diagnosis of attachment disorder. These might be the result of unrecognized or ignored childhood connection issues.

Attachment problems are described on this page, along with some of their many forms and signs. We also discuss various forms of therapy and when it's best to see a doctor.


Attachment theory serves as the foundation

The focus of attachment theory is the development of emotional connections between people. How a person learns to create and maintain relationships is significantly influenced by their early interactions with their parents or other key caregivers.

In the beginning, psychologists examined and classified the many kinds of attachment that may manifest throughout infancy. In order to differentiate between the categories in adults, researchers finally developed the Adult Attachment Interview. The inquiries center on the kind of relationship an adult had with their primary caregiver when they were young.

Adults have attachment philosophies that are similar to those of children. The specifics are as follows:

  • Secure: An adult who has a solid emotional connection with their primary caregiver is said to have a secure attachment. They are less anxious and more at ease in their interactions.
  • These bonds are seen in adults who abhor touching and value independence in their relationships. Their caregiver may not have been aware of their needs when they were young.
  • Adults with these attachments worry or are preoccupied, and they have unstable relationships. If a caregiver is only seldom or unpredictably available, a child could establish this form of connection.
  • Adults with this attachment style may display strong or irregular patterns of connection, such as a craving for closeness followed by a need to distance oneself from others. It could be the result of abuse or trauma experienced throughout childhood.


Attachment issues may be categorized into several different categories

Two kinds of attachment disorders are recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) professional diagnostic criteria.

But it's important to note that the requirements for each are depending on children's symptoms.

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD), a kind of attachment disorder, is one such condition. Early childhood trauma or neglect are common causes of reactive attachment disorder (RAD).

Children with RAD may, in accordance with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

  • When they're with their caregivers, they show little to no emotion, but when they do, they seem sad, angry, discouraged, or scared since they can't seem to settle down when they're anxious.

The symptoms of RAD may appear or continue into adulthood if the child is not given sufficient therapy. Adults may exhibit the symptoms and warning indications listed below:

  • Emotions are tough to interpret.
  • Because they dislike love, struggle with anger, have a poor sense of themselves, and are impulsive or detached, people with low levels of trust have a harder difficulty building relationships.


Disorder of uninhibited social engagement

As a consequence of social neglect and a lack of continuity with a primary caregiver during the first two years of life, disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) may manifest.

The signs of DSED are widespread among foster children. These are a few instances:

  • Highest level of friendliness willingness to approach and engage with others.
  • The amount of social obstacles is kept to a minimum in hyperactive.

If a kid with DSED is not treated well, the problem might worsen or persist until adulthood. An teenager or adult with DSED may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Lack of social awareness manifests as hyperactivity, an excessive amount of trust in strangers, and lack of social awareness.
  • A propensity for making intrusive questions of strangers and acting in an unrestrained manner in general.


Sad child


Is it feasible that this is related to dissociative identity disorder in any way?

One indication of dissociative identity disorder is the development of at least two distinct personality states (DID). Multiple personality disorder was the conventional term used by doctors to describe the condition (MPD).

According to Trusted Source, those who experience connection disruption may have dissociation in later life.

The exact source of dissociative disorders is still unknown to scientists. According to certain beliefs, they might be the result of sexual or emotional abuse throughout childhood.

DID affects 1-3% of people, although dissociation symptoms often occur more frequently.

A person with DID is unaware of their "alters," or other personalities. The "main" personality doesn't do anything while the alters are around other than realize that time has passed.

Some of the symptoms and indicators of the illness include the ones listed below. Others could notice, and the person might go through the following:

  • Uncertainty over their true identity A sense of estrangement from oneself and the environment around them that results in changes in behavior, consciousness, and memory.
  • When personal knowledge or everyday experiences are lost, memory loss happens.
  • Reduced sensitivity to physical discomfort.


Adult relationships and attachment dysfunction

More research is needed in this area since childhood attachment problems may have a detrimental influence on adult relationships.

A person with an attachment problem could struggle to feel safe and comfortable around others or to trust them. As a result, individuals could struggle to establish and maintain romantic and platonic relationships.


Adults with RAD or DSED who were not treated as children may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Psychological distress challenges in social settings lack of confidence.
  • The signs of drug abuse include anxiety, despair, and alienation.



Adults are unlikely to be given this illness's diagnosis since the DSM-5 does not yet have a definition for attachment disorders in adults.


Psychotherapy may also help an adult with a symptom of the condition and is sometimes used to address an attachment issue in children.

Adults may benefit from couples therapy or attachment therapy. The goal of attachment therapy is to assist clients in overcoming the detrimental effects of early attachment experiences.

Couples therapy may assist people in understanding how their relationship is being impacted by an attachment issue. Couples may learn techniques and strategies to better their relationship with the aid of a therapist and this information.



An attachment problem may negatively impact a person's interpersonal relationships as well as their overall quality of life. On the other hand, therapy could be beneficial.

Psychotherapy helps a person see and understand negative attitudes and actions that can be damaging their relationships. After dealing with these problems, a person could acquire useful abilities and coping mechanisms.


When should you seek medical advice?

Ideally, treatment should begin while a child is a young child. Any child who has been abused or neglected needs psychiatric care, regardless of whether they have an attachment issue.

Anyone who believes that their actions or ideas are hurting their relationships should speak to a physician or psychologist.

Anyone who has experienced abuse as an adult may find it helpful to discuss it with a therapist. Unresolved problems from the past can be affecting people's thoughts and behavior right now.


Summary Adults are unlikely to be diagnosed with attachment problems since they are only identified in children by clinical criteria.

If an attachment disorder in a kid is not properly treated, the symptoms may intensify or persist into adulthood, leading to social and relationship issues.

A doctor or psychologist should be seen by anybody who was subjected to abuse or neglect as a kid, especially if the problem is affecting their ability to form healthy relationships.