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OCT 13    8 PM

Attachment Styles

Attachment style & influence from early days

Attachment StylesAnil Thomas
00:00 / 03:11

Attachment style & influence from early days

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Join me next month for a new online lecture Attachment Styles.

As humans, we inherently yearn for the assurance that we can count on our loved ones or family to fulfil our fundamental needs for love, care, and solace. This innate desire for a sense of belonging, love, and care is a profound aspect of our nature, shaping our experiences across various types of relationships, including family, friendships, and more. During our early years, this desire to connect deeply with others becomes deeply ingrained through our interactions with our parents and other primary caregivers. These early attachment experiences often leave a profound mark on our adult lives, influencing how we relate to our partners and friends.

Childhood Experiences and Their Enduring Influence:

Research indicates that the attachment style formed during childhood typically persists into adulthood. Crucially, the way we learn to connect with our caregivers as children significantly influences how we forge relationships in our adult lives. This attachment style ultimately determines whether a bond will be enduring or short-lived. 


Understanding the impact of your early childhood attachment style on yourself and your relationships is essential. For example, for any intimate relationship to thrive over time, a foundation of comfort, vulnerability, trust, and care is indispensable. Without these elements, partners may feel unheard, distant, and struggle to establish lasting connections.

John Bowbly’s Pioneering Work on Attachment Styles:

The comprehensive explanation of these attachment styles is credited to the pioneering work of John Bowlby, who posited that infants display physiological and emotional responses such as crying, smiling, bursts of anger, and screaming when separated from or reunited with their caregivers. 


Attachment styles can be categorized as secure, where children trust their caregivers and therefore have no difficulty forming bonds or seeking social support, and insecure, where children learn early on that they cannot rely on their parents for emotional support, hindering their ability to be emotionally close to others.

Types of Attachment Styles:

  • Secure Attachment Style

Children with a secure attachment style tend to place trust in their caregivers. They understand that they can seek love and support from their parents and feel confident in this support. These children display trust and often exhibit healthy self-esteem. As adults who experience secure attachment in childhood, they tend to be self-reliant and have no difficulty forming bonds or seeking social support. They actively pursue connections and are more likely to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships.

  • Insecure Attachment Style

Children with an avoidant insecure attachment style learn early on that they cannot rely on their parents for emotional support. This lack of warmth, whether due to absence, abuse, or emotional distance, prevents them from establishing a strong bond. They come to perceive it as unsafe to depend on their caregivers for emotional warmth and support. As adults, individuals with this attachment style typically avoid emotional intimacy in any form. They shy away from investing their emotions in relationships and struggle to become, hindering their ability to be emotionally close to others. Communicating their feelings to loved ones is often challenging or something they are unwilling to do.

  • Avoidant Insecure Attachment Style

Children who develop this attachment style tend to recognize early on that they cannot depend on their caregiver for comfort and support. Consequently, they develop a tendency to avoid seeking these needs later in life, leading to a sense of being unheard and insignificant during their upbringing. As adults, they struggle with emotional awareness, making it challenging for them to form close bonds or engage in intimate relationships.

  • Disorganized Insecure Attachment Style

This attachment style was originally not a part of Bowbly’s work and was later added by Main and Solomon (1986) combining elements of both avoidance and anxiety. Children with this attachment style often display signs of anger and exhibit volatile behaviour. As adults, they are inclined to distance themselves from close relationships, preferring to avoid them altogether.

The "Strange Situation"

Mary Ainsworth, a student of John Bowlby, expanded upon his research by conducting a notable extension of his experiment. In 1978, in her groundbreaking study, she meticulously observed the interactions between infants and their caregivers, while also documenting how children reacted when their caregivers left the room or were replaced by strangers. This pioneering research came to be widely known as the "Strange Situation."


Following in her mentor's footsteps, she classified attachment styles into three primary categories:

1. Secure Attachment Style

Children with secure attachment styles, akin to Bowlby's findings, displayed joy and relief upon reuniting with their parents. Although they might exhibit physical signs of distress like crying and screaming when separated, they quickly regained their happiness upon reestablishing a connection with their parents.

2. Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

In contrast, individuals with an anxious attachment style exhibited heightened distress when left alone. Upon reunion with their caregivers, they often displayed signs of anger and irritability.

3. Anxious-Resistant Attachment Style

Infants with an anxious attachment style exhibited a blend of tantrums and distress both when separated from and reunited with their caregivers. They manifested physiological signs of irritability through fussing and screaming.


In conclusion, understanding attachment styles, whether secure or insecure, sheds light on the profound impact early childhood experiences can have on adult relationships, influencing our ability to connect and express emotions throughout our lives. This lecture endeavours to delve into various examples and scenarios, aiming to provide a deeper understanding of different attachment styles. Its goal is to shed light on the intricacies involved, with the ultimate aim of fostering enduring and harmonious connections.

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