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Attachment Disorder - 8 Risks Involved!

Reviewed by
MBBS, MRCPsych (UK), CCST (General Adult Psychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry)
Psychiatrist, Visakhapatnam  •  24 years experience
Attachment Disorder - 8 Risks Involved!

While most children share a strong bond with their parents, especially the mother, some children are unable to establish lasting relationships with their parents or caregivers. This is known as attachment disorder. It is a rare yet serious condition as it affects the child’s relationships at a later stage and also triggers delinquent behavior. Children, who have been abandoned, orphaned or are victims of abuse are the most vulnerable to this condition.

What causes attachment disorder?

The exact cause for attachment disorder is not yet understood. However, researchers have put together a number of viable hypotheses for this. One such hypothesis suggests that when needs of a child are ignored or when he or she begins to feel unwanted, the child begins to expect hostility, negativity and rejection. This is a learnt response and the child begins to feel that his needs are unwanted. With time, these responses make the child untrusting and he or she withdraws into himself/herself to avoid social contact. This affects the development of mind and causes attachment problems that affect the child’s personality and future relationships.

Risks associated with it:

Some children are at a higher risk of attachment disorder than others. This includes

  1. Children living in orphanages or other such institutes
  2. Children whose caregivers are changed frequently
  3. Children who have had prolonged hospitalization
  4. Neglected children
  5. Children who have suffered from physical, sexual or verbal abuse
  6. Children living in extreme poverty
  7. Children born to parents with mental conditions or anger management problems
  8. Children born to a mother suffering from postpartum depression

Symptoms:

There are two types of attachment disorders; inhibited and disinhibited.

  1. Inhibited attachment disorder: Children suffering from inhibited attachment disorder are likely to be:
    • Detached
    • Withdrawn
    • Unresponsive to comforting ie. they shun all types of relationships and generally do not get along with their peers or caregivers.
  2. Disinhibited attachment disorder: On the other hand, children suffering from disinhibited attachment are likely to:
    • Seek attention
    • Display inappropriate behavior
    • Frequently break social boundaries
    • Be inappropriately familiar and attached to selective figures.

Additionally, children suffering from either type of attachment disorder are manipulative, destructive, moody and lack compassion and remorse.

Effects of attachment disorder:

If not managed properly in its early stages, this disorder can continue into adulthood. This leads to:

  1. Relationship problems with peers, friends and family members
  2. Low self esteem
  3. Depression
  4. Anger management
  5. Academic problems
  6. Unemployment
  7. They are also at a high risk for drug abuse and alcohol addiction
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