Here is a brief description of the four primary atttachment styles. The IPF is the recommended treatment for people with insecure attachment. Also, some people with secure attachment also stand to benefit.
People with secure attachment:
These people find trusting others easy and natural. They expect that others are largely honest and want what is best for them. The are at ease with intimacy, connection, and readily rely on others. They naturally reciprocate as well. They are good explorers. They know what they find meaningful in life and pursue those things. Collaboration with others comes naturally to them. The have well developed meta-cognitive abilities being able to have a balanced and considerate view of their own thoughts and emotions and the thoughts and emotions of others. They are balanced and responsive in terms of being spontaneous at times but also being able to control and monitor themselves when appropriate. People with secure attachment don’t need IPF for attachment repair. However, most people with secure attachment do have ‘Early Maladaptive Schemas’ and ‘Core Conflict Relationship Themes’ (CCRT). These two levels can also be assessed by taking an inventory and by pinpointed IPF work.
People with dismissing attachment:
These people tend to have more superficial relationships within close relationships, staying distant emotionally. They tend to be more unconscious and out of touch with their feelings and the feelings of others. They are often good explorers, typically able to go out into life and accomplish the goals they desire.
However, the explorations and accomplishments tend to be “secondary” or “instrumental”. Their pursuits help them get status or wealth to attract people into their lives. They often don’t feel fundamentally worthy of love. This unconsciously drives them. They are typically more transactional in relationships rather than truly collaborative.
People with dismissing attachment often have few memories of childhood before puberty. Their primary caregiver was typically rejecting of attachment needs such a attunement, empathy, and physical affection. The caregivers typically supported the child’s explorations as this relieved the caregiver’s discomfort with attachment needs of the child. If the child was out exploring the child wouldn’t be trying to connect with the dismissive caregiver which is uncomfortable for the dismissive caregiver. So, the child who later develops dismissing attachment “goes off on their own” never developing truly secure and collaborative inter-dependance with others.
In terms of meta-cognitive abilities people with dismissing attachment styles are not sensitive to others’ needs or feelings nor are they conscious of their own. They are self-oriented and dismissing of others. They tend to be very controlled and lack spontaneity. They are also typically more cognitive and less emotional.
People with preoccupied attachment:
these people tend to be excessively involved in the mind-states of others. The caregiver involved them excessively in their mind state and inappropriately enlisted the child into helping the caregiver emotionally regulate. As a result the child didn’t learn to pay as much attention to their own states. They can be clinging, anxious in relating and fearful of being abandoned.
Their exploration behaviors were truncated by the caregiver in as much as the caregiver found the child’s healthy explorations away from the caregiver as threatening because the child’s explorations undermined the child’s availability to emotionally regulate the caregiver (parent-child role-reversal). So, the self-development that comes from exploration is generally lacking to varying extents.
At their worst, they can develop manipulative strategies to ensure their partners don’t leave them. Please note this is never the fault of the child, rather just the adaption made to the precarious conditions of care.
In terms of metacognitive abilities, preoccupied people are excessively outward in orientation focused on the attachment figure. They try to gage what the other person is thinking and feeling so that they can present themselves in a way that is pleasing to the attachment-figure. They thereby neglect to get in touch with their own thoughts and emotions. They tend to be somewhat impulsive and spontaneous, and deficit in self-monitoring. They are also more emotional and not as cognitive in orientation.
People with disorganized attachment:
these people have a deep fear of intimacy and relationships, despite their strong longing for them. Fear and confusion are common mental states for people with disorganized attachment conditioning. They tend also to be unreliable. All this together can make it difficult for them to establish secure relationships. This loneliness is often unbearable.
Often the result is that they’ve given up on relationships entirely due to repeated failures. They lack a coherent sense of self, and an inner security that would carry them through life. Their minds tend to be disorganized and they shift into different states frequently. They generally lack the emotional self-regulation skills and the secure interpersonal relationships that are needed for them to pursue their own meaningful explorations in life. All this said another way: relationships don’t work and exploration doesn’t work. So, they lack an ability to tenaciously engage in goal oriented behavior. For these reasons their quality of life tends to be much lower than any of the organized types of attachment (secure, dismissing, and preoccupied). Disorganized attachment result in characterological problems which frequently meet the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, borderline, narcissistic, antisocial, histrionic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders). Also disorganized attachment can be a causal factor in Axis I conditions like ADHD, depression, anxiety etc. People with disorganized attachment conditioning typically have strong deficits in meta-cognitive abilities.
How can I know if I have insecure attachment?
(Cedric to futher develop – maybe we also make up a quiz here, also we can offer the AAI as the gold standard for assessing attachment conditiniong in adults.)