Developmental Concept - Early Trauma Attachment Theory

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Alex unknowingly experienced a trauma and that trauma lingered throughout his early childhood. Since his parents both passed away at such a young age, Alex really had no one to depend on. At five months babies are dependent on their caregivers for food, changing and protection. According to Erik Erikson’s (1950), psychosocial theory stages, the first stage which is from birth to 18 months is that of basic sense of trust versus mistrust (Papalia & Martorell, 2015, p.171).

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In addition, this stage is a platform for developing future relationships and attachments. Attachment is defined as a reciprocal emotional tie between an infant and a caregiver and infants and parents are biologically inclined to become attached to one another. (Papalia & Martorell, 2015, p.172). During this time in Alex’s life, he was back and forth between relatives. Alex would develop an attachment with one caregiver and soon be moved to live with another caregiver and must start the process of feeling secure and trusting the new caregiver again. Due to this, Alex had an insecure-resistant attachment. He would not want his paternal aunt to leave the room at times and would make sure he was always next to her. Alex would feel anxious because he knew that his living situation can change or that both families would be arguing. At times, especially during court hearings, Alex would get mad if his paternal aunt had to leave him in the play room they had at court, so she can go inside the court room. Upon returning Alex would be mad at his aunt and not want to acknowledge she was present. It would take some time for Alex to warm back up again to his aunt, he was just angry. According to Bowlby (1951), this attached style is due to repeated interaction with a caregiver.

Many studies have shown that having insecure attachments in toddlers tend to have more negative emotions in toddlers like fear, distress and anger compared to secure attachments where toddlers are more joyful ((Papalia & Martorell, 2015, p.175). During times of separation and going back and forth for Alex caused him to display those emotions of anger and fear. However, research suggest that due to having insecure attachment relationships early in life can have a negative impact of future relationships. Alex has been very independent during his adolescent years. He did not ask for much help to anyone. He wants to accomplish and “figure things out” on his own. This makes sense since he probably did not trust may individuals which goes in hand with insecure attachment and Erikson’s theory of trust vs mistrust.

Alex is currently engaged to a woman he has dated for about 5 years. Alex was able to overcome the theory of attachment and create a healthy attachment relationship, not only with his finance but with peers as well.

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