Attachment: The human reliance on others, our attachment to people, is one of the most basic and powerful neurobiological/psychological needs. Drawing on the extensive work of John Bowlby (1988, 2008) and the primary attachment figure, Grawe places attachment as a centerpiece of our neurobiological needs. According to Mary Ainsworth et al (1978), the development of an attachment style (or pattern of behaviour developed from our early attachment experiences) can be defined as either: Secure attachment; insecure attachment and avoidant; insecure attachment and ambivalent; and insecure attachment and disorganized/disorientated.

The experiences of relationships from the very first months of life shape the way we approach or avoid people (motivational schemas) in an attempt to satisfy the need to be attached to others. These patterns, or schemas, carry on into adult life, causing us to react/respond to social situations in particular ways. An unfavorable attachment experience early in life, such as a traumatic event, or neglect, can have serious mental health repercussions later in life, long after the infant experience. An individual may be completely bemused as to why they respond to a social encounter in a pathological manner, not realizing neural networks (the motivational schemas) were established in their infancy, beyond their memory recall. When the need for attachment is violated there can be serious consequences for mental health, and there is overwhelming evidence to suggest attachment is a basic human need.

Attachment in 60 seconds from The Neuropsychotherapist on Vimeo.

  • Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
  • Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.
  • Bowlby, J. (2008). Attachment: Volume One of the Attachment and Loss Trilogy: Attachment Vol 1 (Attachment & Loss) (Revised edition edition.). Vintage Digital.