As we have seen in other posts that I have published on this site, some babies are prevented from forming a secure attachment (bond) with their mother and this can have disastrous effects upon their future mental health.
What Can Cause An Insecure Attachment To Develop Between The Mother And Baby?
There are numerous reasons why this failure in healthy bonding between the mother and baby may occur, including:
– the mother being an alcoholic/drug addict
– the mother suffering from clinical depression
– the mother being abusive
– the baby being separated from the primary carer (eg due to divorce, hospitalization, death)
(The list provided above is not intended to be exhaustive).
The Adverse Effects Of The Development Of An Insecure Attachment Between The Mother And Baby:
Whether or not a secure attachment is created between the mother and her baby has very serious implications as the quality of the attachment effects how the baby’s brain physically develops.
If a secure attachment has not been achieved, the child is at risk of going on to develop poor self-esteem, difficulties forming and maintaining relationships with others, problems with trusting others, an inability to effectively ‘self-sooth’ and reduced ability to cope with stress / weakened resilience.
Compensatory / Alternative Attachments :
However, if the child has had a bad start in life and has not been able to form a secure attachment with the mother, s/he still has the possibility of forming compensatory /alternative attachments with:
- Other Individuals
- Institutions, clubs, societies, groups
- ‘Site Attachments’
Let’s look at each of these in turn:
1) Other individuals :
Such as friends, members of extended family etc
2) Institutions, clubs, societies, groups :
Such as sports clubs, political societies, social clubs etc
3) Pets :
Mammals like cats, dogs and rabbits have a need to bond as we do. Also, stroking a pet is soothing and can have beneficial physiological effects (such as reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure). However, bonds with pets should not substitute completely for necessary human relationships. ) I myself have a rabbit (called Rambo) who hops around my flat and is currently in the process of gnawing his way through all my furniture
4) ‘Site attachments’ (familiar/comforting/soothing places of perceived safety and security):
It is also possible to become attached to places (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘site attachment’).
Children tend to have special ‘safe-havens’ that they can retreat to in times of distress (such as a bedroom, ‘den’ or friend’s house).
Adults, too, may have their own preferred retreats (such as a garden shed or allotment).
If sufficient compensatory / alternative attachments are made and these are stable, reliable and of good quality, the individual can still move from insecure attachment to secure attachment.
Downloadable MP3 self-hypnosis audio :
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).