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  • attachment relationships and emotional life

    Attachment theory asserts that it is in the context of relationship that we find ourselves. Through relationship with another, we come to shape our own basic understandings about the world, the way it works, and our place in it. If our primary attachment figure is able to be available, to be sensitive to our needs, and to be empathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that other people are dependable, and that we ourselves are worthy of attention. If, on the other hand, our primary attachment is unavailable, inconsistently available, insensitive, uncurious, or unempathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that others are not dependable--that we can't rely on them to help us when we need help--and that that is true because we are not worthy of their attention, that there is something deeply wrong with us. 

    And in infancy, attachment behaviors--crying, calling, crawling towards--are triggered by fear. Attachment and emotion are bound together from the very beginning. When we feel frightened, or tired, or ill, we look to those to whom we are most attached. So this is the place where attachment theory opens into theories of emotion: are emotions universally experienced and expressed? Are there cultural differences around the experience and/or expression of emotion? What are emotions for? 

    In the coming months, I want to explore specific emotions, familiar and unfamiliar, and perhaps to explore these larger questions about emotions.