What Does Background-Attachment Mean And How Does it Work?

By Sarah Fader

Updated May 09, 2019

Reviewer Amanda Andrews

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Every child wants to feel loved and supported by their parent. They want to feel as though they will be safe and comfortable, but that's not always the case. Though most children do achieve stable attachment, not all children do. In households where the environment is less than ideal, negative attachment problems can arise. That's true with background-attachment as well as with many other types. The problem is, many caregivers don't even realize what they're doing to their child when they provide these types of harmful parenting.

What Is Background-Attachment?

There are many different types of negative attachment and this is only one of them. These negative forms of attachment occur when a parent or caregiver is unable or unwilling to provide the child with the love, affection and security that they require from their infancy. If the child is not able to find these things in their parent they come to believe that these things are not available to them. They believe that they are not worthy of love and affection and this causes problems for their relationships throughout their lives. Creating a harmful form of attachment at a young age has a very dramatic impact on the child.

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Why Background-Attachment And Others Are Bad For Children

Anything other than stable attachment is considered harmful for a child as they grow. Background-attachment, anxious attachment, avoidant attachment … all of them are ways that a child develops when their environment is not supportive and loving. It doesn't mean that the parent doesn't care for the child. It doesn't even mean that the parent is actually indifferent toward the child. What it means is their actions seem to indicate that they are indifferent and that leads the child to develop problems, like being self-conscious and depressed.

Children who grow up without the proper type and level of support from their caregiver tend to develop negative personality traits. They tend to have more difficulty forming lasting relationships with friends and even other family because they have a lack of trust in others and a lack of confidence in themselves that they won't be rejected. As a result, they tend to become very clingy and dependent on others for their happiness and their success in any area of their lives. They don't know how to care for themselves or be alone.

At the same time, their insecurity is what often drives away those friends and loved ones. Because they can be too clingy and too demanding when it comes to emotional needs it can be difficult for anyone to help them work through their problems other than a professional. Their loved ones may find it difficult to be around them because of the intense need that they have to get attention and love in whatever way they want. As they are mistrusting and require constant reassurance they can also be particular on how exactly loved ones can prove themselves.

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All of this can be very taxing for the person going through it and many find that they simply can't cope with the problems, the demands or the clinginess. Unfortunately, this only serves to make the individual who is suffering feel even more like they will be rejected by everyone that they care about. Because of this they may continue to become even more clingy and needy with each subsequent relationship that doesn't work out. They start to demand more and more because their fears are being validated.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

If you've never heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy then this cycle is the perfect example. The individual is needy, clingy and demanding because they believe that their partner will leave them. Because of the neediness, clinginess and demanding nature the partner does leave. The individual then says 'I knew they would leave me. I was right.' But it's their own actions that made the person leave. So it's a prophecy that came true because of that individuals own actions. Being stuck in this cycle is definitely a self-fulfilling prophecy and it's one that continues to repeat itself multiple times.

By working through the problems that you face or anyone else you know faces it can be possible to put a stop to the self-fulfilling prophecy, but only if you get help. After all, this type of behavior and attachment is actually common to be passed down from one generation to the next. Most parents model for their children what they've seen happen in their own lives and with their own parents. As a result, children who grew up with this type of behavior tend to do the same to their children, even though they don't want to.

Getting Professional Help

If you're thinking about working through the traumas that you have faced in your life it's definitely important to look at BetterHelp as one option. No one likes to drive halfway across town (or to the next town over) because you want to get the best psychiatrist you can or because you don't want anyone to know you're seeing someone. With BetterHelp you don't have to worry about that at all, because you don't need to go to a psychiatrist's office to do absolutely anything. Instead, you can simply log in to the company website and get started.

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BetterHelp is all about helping you to connect with a mental health professional without having to go to an office or feel limited by only the people that are located within your immediate area. You'll want check it out for yourself before you ever look at a different service or even someone within your area. They can help connect you to many physiatrists and therapists around the country. You just log in and you can set up your appointment whenever and however you like. When the time comes you just log back in and you're ready to go. Just log on from anywhere with an internet connection, even if you happen to be on vacation but want to keep the meeting.


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