What is Attachment Disorder?
The term Attachment Disorder (or Disordered Attachment) may be used as an umbrella term to describe a series of attachment problems beginning from mild to the extreme of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Attachment Disorder begins with a disruption of the attachment cycle as early as infancy and in some cases, in-utero. This is not to say that the parents or caregivers did not love the child but rather an environment in which a child could develop trust and a positive attitude toward the world was not provided. Parents who are drug addicted, depressed, mentally ill, or otherwise emotionally unavailable do not foster an environment that is conductive to healthy attachments. A colicky or sickly baby, one that is not cuddly, can also result in the parents having difficulty a developing healthy attachment. A child brought up in an orphanage without adequate touch and stimulation can also develop attachment disorders.
Lack of attachment contributes to difficulty in a child’s life which may continue through adult hood. A child with an attachment disorder sees him/herself in a negative light and tends to show little care or concern about others. In short, he/she may lack a conscious. To those outside the child’s primary circle the child may present as a charming and caring person but only to make the “caregiver look bad.” Some of the signs are listed below. If your child has several of these you may want to have them evaluated.*
Some signs of possible Attachment Disorder:
- superficially engaging and charming
- a sense of entitlement
- lack of eye contact except when lying
- accident prone and destructive
- animal cruelty and fascination with blood and gore
- educational lags
- speech difficulty
- eating problems
- difficulty with cause and effect thinking
- “crazy lying” (when it is very obvious that a lie is being told)
Dr. Atchison has attended numerous workshops on attachment including a two-week intensive with Dr. Gregory Keck and Associates in 2005. She uses play therapy techniques, particularly Theraplay ® techniques, and has adapted some of the traditional attachment treatments to her practice. She does not use the “holding” technique that many associate with attachment treatment but rather promotes attachment and bonding between parent/caregiver using filial therapy and Theraplay ® techniques.