Attachment is simply an emotional bond to another person. John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist and he described attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” Our first attachment in life is to our primary caregiver, usually mother and/or father. These early bonds allow an infant to feel secure and safe both emotionally and physically; A present and attentive mother improves the child’s chance of survival, creating not only emotional security, but physical safety. Essentially, the central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to explore the world.
These early bonds have a tremendous impact throughout life. The sense of security, or lack of, created in childhood is important to be aware of and understand as it can greatly impact one’s sense of security, self-esteem, social connections, and romantic relationships in adulthood. Unmet needs from childhood can manifest themselves in adulthood and create unhelpful or hurtful patterns. In therapy it is possible to discover those unmet needs and begin to create a sense of security from within, changing the blueprint drawn in early life.