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Mother - Our Initial Source of Love and Influencer of Attachment Styles



Many people associate the concept of trauma with profound events experienced during childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood. However, trauma can in fact occur during the prenatal period, while the mother is still carrying the child. According to the case studies on trauma recovery, treatments such as amniocentesis and cesarean section might potentially influence the infant, and as the fetus leaves the womb, from the birth canal to the cutting of the umbilical cord, there is a possible chance of separation trauma. In recent years, researchers from other countries have discovered that if the fetus can be delivered in a safe and welcoming environment while allowing for some time with the placenta and umbilical cord still attached, it can significantly improve the baby's long-term stability as well as physical and mental stability!


However, in addition to these birth-related traumas, the interactions and bonding with the mother after birth also deeply influence the adult's intimate relationships and attachment patterns. The mother, as the primary and most intimate caregiver for most individuals, plays a pivotal role. Whether the mother can provide the child with sufficient sense of security often determines how the child views themselves, how they see the world, and how they approach personal relationships when they mature into adults.




Depending on the different styles of early mother-infant interaction, The developmental trajectory can generally be categorized into four types


1. Secure Attachment Style


People of this type have a mother who is attentive to their needs and responds promptly to their expressions during infancy and early childhood. As these people mature into adults, they tend to possess a strong sense of security and trust in relationships. They are willing to ask for help when they face difficulties and have a strong sense of self-worth. They also believe that they are worthy of love. In addition, they have fewer internal conflicts, which leads them to having deeper and more stable interpersonal and intimate relationships.


2.Avoidant Attachment Style:


People of this type have a mother who is insensitive to their needs or responds slowly during infancy and early childhood, leading them to adopt ways of keeping a distance, being aloof, or being physically or emotionally absent. These tactics are used to disengage or avoid building attachments in order to escape the sorrow and hurt that comes with broken connections. To shield themselves from injury, they develop a tendency to downplay their own emotions and disregard interpersonal relationships. It can be difficult for these people to forge lasting relationships because they often struggle with intimacy fears. Furthermore, in order to avoid confronting their true inner feelings, they may excessively engage in external activities to distract their attention, such as becoming obsessive about sports or becoming workaholics who cannot stop working.


3.Ambivalent/Anxious Attachment Style:


People of this type go through recurring experiences during infancy and early childhood in which their mother does not always respond to them, but only responds to them at times. The interaction between mother and infant is mostly driven by the mother's intentions rather than the child's needs, hence whether they receive attention and resources is dependent on their mother's mood and circumstances. As a result, the child develops a self-protective mechanism of pushing away; to not gain something, so as to avoid the discomfort of losing what was gained. As these people become adults, they become accustomed to pushing aside anything they actually desire, and are prone to self-doubt, thinking that they are undeserving. When they finally get the desired relationships, they typically ignore their own desires to please and satisfy others out of fear of losing them.


4.Disorganized Attachment Style:


When expressing their needs, people of this type either experience being ignored or rejected or receive unfriendly responses during infancy and childhood. For instance, they may believe they should not have been born or they perceive hostility towards them as a hindrance in someone's life. They may even witness or encounter inappropriate violence and abuse. In essence, their sources of protection become the greatest threats. When the people they rely on for survival are also the ones threatening their survival, it becomes difficult for them to develop appropriate coping strategies for survival. This ultimately leads to a breakdown in setting boundaries and discernment abilities. As adults, they are more vulnerable to victimization and perpetrating harm on others. They struggle to distinguish between good and dangerous individuals, and develop patterns of both wanting and rejecting closeness in personal relationships.






The aforementioned types are all related to early life experiences. When you have already reached adulthood and cannot revisit your infancy to rebuild a solid foundation of your personality with your mother or primary caregiver, what can you do to make improvements?



Suggestions for Avoidant Type:


People of the avoidant attachment style seem to be very independent and self-sufficient, and they think in a very logical and rational manner. However, they often repress their inner sensibility and intuitive flow. Therefore, it is very important for them to rediscover the ability to “feel who they are inside” and connect with themselves. The first thing you can do is to connect with your own body - carefully examine your movements, gestures, and experience your five senses, including the ups and downs of your emotions. Try to describe and express them verbally. If possible, practice expressing your feelings with someone you trust. When the avoidant person can feel the communication between both parties, and feel that they are being listened to and treated well, they will start feeling that "there is no need to run away", that "relationships are comfortable and safe" and that "it's okay to reach out when you're vulnerable".


Suggestions for Ambivalent/Anxious Type:


Those who are of the ambivalent/anxious type tend to have a low sense of self-worth and are full of self-doubt. The most obvious state is that they feel uncomfortable and pressured when receiving praise and gifts from others, and that "I am not good, while others are good" is their inner core belief. Therefore, it is recommended that you start practicing by trying to accept compliments and gifts in your life, to feel how it feels when you accept them, and to tell yourself: I am willing to allow myself to accept them slowly, I am willing to focus more on myself, to see my own needs, to take care of myself, and to try to discover my own value and strengths


Suggestions for Disorganized Type:


People who are the disorganized type tend to shut down their connection with the present when their patterns are triggered, or they might enter a state of dissociation and freezing. They frequently struggle to discern between the past and the present, between imagination and reality, and they project past fears and concerns onto the current situation. Therefore, coming back to the present moment is the first step towards breaking free from chaos. When these people start getting caught up in their anxious world, they can try to connect with their own body by feeling the touch between their feet and the ground, looking at the objects around them, and moving their body, arms, and legs to let their thoughts go. At the same time, they can remind themselves that they are capable of being protected, recall past experiences of being cared for, or imagine people who can provide them support are supporting them and providing safety right now. Additionally, since individuals with a disorganized attachment lack the safety and stability that boundaries provide, it is important for them to practice setting boundaries again. By starting to say "no," they can create a safe space where they feel protected and find relief.





In addition to the above suggestions, if you would like to have a more thorough regulation of your internal state or find it challenging to learn and apply these knowledge on your own, you can also try the following:


1.Seek guidance from a professional :


Sometimes, when the situation is not serious, all we need is a professional to help us understand what happened and the direction that we can go from here for further improvement. In such cases, seeking individual counseling can be very effective. However, if the impact is already significant and there are signs of possible anxiety or depression, seeking assistance through other outpatient services would be a more suitable approach. It is important to first stabilize our own mental and emotional well-being and then gradually work on improving from past patterns. This is a safer and more efficient step.


2.Seek assistance and companionship from friends:


Being deeply involved in an intimate relationship can trigger emotions and patterns more easily than in a friendship. Therefore, seeking assistance from friends who provide you with a strong sense of security is more suitable for beginners in the journey of healing. Your friends can be very helpful, whether it's just for their company or to serve as a practice partner for your own internal work.


3.Attend professional courses on personal development for self-transformation:


Peter A. Levine, a pioneer in trauma healing, said: Trauma is a part of life, but we don't have to be trapped in it forever. Through trauma healing courses, you can pick up knowledge on trauma and healing techniques under the guidance of professionally trained instructors in a safe environment. Through group and individual activities, you can gradually recover from the effects of trauma, reestablish a safe and trusting world and significantly improve your personal relationships and connections with others, as well as the world.



Recommended Professional Trauma Healing Programs:

彈性與調節台北實體工作坊

2023/06/24開課

Childhood Attachment Trauma Healing Training (Beginner Level) - 5th Cohort

Course commencement: 1 September 2023

Exploring Birth Experience: Taipei On-Site Workshop

Course commencement: 2 December 2023


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