Saturday, June 13, 2020

Disorganized Attachment

Many of my clients have a Disorganized attachment style. This is almost a given if you have a Dissociative Disorder and is also true for most clients with Complex PTSD. Having a Disorganized attachment style when you are young is a risk factor for many things, including both physical and mental illnesses. The following describes what it feels like to have a Disorganized attachment style.

I will do almost anything to avoid feelings of vulnerability that might elicit a need for an attachment figure. I may be almost entirely isolated or I may have set up relationships in my life such that attachment vulnerability is avoided. I may be comfortable seeing myself as the person who gives to others or rescues them from bad situations. Alternately, I may be focused on competing with others to prove my value, authority and knowledge and/or submitting to people who seem more powerful than me in order to get their approval. In all relationships, it is important for me to have a sense of control.

If I am forced to feel vulnerable by an external or internal trigger, I become undone emotionally and experience helplessness, panic, numbness, and dissociation. It is also common that vulnerability triggers sudden flashbacks of neglect or abuse.

One reason I cannot find peace when my attachment needs are triggered is that I don’t have only one underlying attachment system. I will likely be pulled between extreme urges toward anxious and avoidant ways of attachment, mixed in with attempts to push away all attachment needs by getting a sense of control through a combination of addictive behaviors (i.e. drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, overeating, self-injury) and/or relating to others in ways that make me feel in control (i.e. caregiving, rescuing, dominating, or submission.)  I never feel significantly safe alone or with others.