Attachment is the result
of the bonding process that occurs between a child and caregiver
during the first couple years of the child's life. The first year
of life is the year of needs. The infant's primary needs are touch,
eye contact, movement, smiles, and nourishment. When the infant has
a need, he or she expresses the need through crying. Ideally, the
caretaker is able to recognize and satisfy the need. Through this
interaction, which occurs hundreds of thousands of times in a year,
the child learns that the world is a safe place and trust develops.
In addition, emotional connection forms, the child feels empowered
in his or her environment, and develops a secure base from which
the child can confidently and effectively explore the world. Attachment
is reciprocal, the baby and caregiver create this deep, nurturing
connection together: It takes two to connect. It is imperative for
optimal brain development and emotional health, and its effects are
felt physiologically, emotionally, cognitively and socially.
When this initial attachment is
lacking, children lack the ability to form and maintain loving, intimate relationships.
They grow up with an impaired ability to trust that the world is a safe place
and that others will take good care of them. Without this sense of trust, children
believes that they must be hypervigilant about their own safety. Unfortunately,
their idea about safety prevents them from allowing others to take care of them
in a loving, nurturing manner. They become extremely demanding and controlling
in response to their fear. Emotionally they believe that if they do not control
their world then they will die.
Children without proper care in
the first few years of life have an unusually high level of stress hormones,
which adversely effect the way crucial aspects of the brain and body develop.
Conscience development is dependent upon brain development and follows attachment.
Therefore, these children lack prosocial values and morality as well as demonstrating
aggressive, disruptive and antisocial behaviors.
- Superficially charming, acts cute to get what he/she wants.
- Indiscriminately affectionate with unfamiliar adults.
- Lacks genuine affection with primary caregivers (especially mother).
- Controlling, bossy, manipulative, defiant, argumentative, demanding,
- Preoccupation with fire, death, blood, or gore.
- Cruelty to animals, destruction of property, aggression toward
others or self.
- Destructive, accident-prone.
- Rages or has long temper tantrums, especially in response to adult
- Poor eye contact, except when lying.
- Blames others for their problems.
- Lacks self-control.
- Lacks cause and effect thinking.
- Lies, steals, shows no remorse, no conscience, defiant.
- Hoards or sneaks food, strange eating habits.
- Poor hygiene: wets or soils self.
- Has difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter.
- Grandiose sense of self lacks trust in others to care for him/her.
There is a range of attachment problems resulting
in varying degrees of emotional disturbances in the child. Some of these children
may have concurrent diagnoses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct
Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Mood Disorders such as Depression
or Bipolar Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, many children
with Reactive Attachment Disorder are often misdiagnosed and receive inadequate
therapy for years.