It’s strange to say, but most of us seriously underplay the importance of how we’re conditioned to form attachment. As babies and young children, we are totally dependent on how our parents or caregivers take care of us.

If that bonding process is not nurturing, reliable, and secure, it can cause problems that affect us well into adulthood. When our childhood home is a place of neglect, abuse, divorce, etc., we can be traumatized.

Children raised in such environments are vulnerable to attachment trauma. Since they lack the language skills and emotional intelligence to point it out when young, attachment trauma can remain undiagnosed until they become adults. So, how do we know what to look for?

Common Causes of Attachment Trauma

arm gripUntil you begin creating an independent social life, everything you know about interacting with other people is based on how you were raised.

With predictable or abusive caregivers, this can result in long-term issues. To get more specific on the dynamics mentioned above, let’s consider some of the factors that can contribute to attachment trauma:

  • Not having your fundamental needs addressed and met
  • Living in a household in which any of the following are present: substance use, domestic violence, illness, disability, divorce or separation, or the death of someone close to you
  • Abuse of any kind (physical, sexual, emotional, etc.)
  • Poor boundaries
  • Parents or siblings who try to control you

Elements like this set the stage for misunderstanding, doubt, and fear when it comes to understanding where and how you fit in. With compromised social skills, you are trying to navigate a complex world that often feels frightening and confusing.



4 Signs of Unresolved Attachment Trauma in Adults

1. Relationship Problems

It should go without saying that relationship problems are a universal sign. If the attachment blueprint presented to you from the start is dysfunctional, relationships will be a challenge. Do an honest, fair assessment of your romantic history and see what patterns jump out at you.

2. Unhealthy Choices

If you feel you cannot trust others, you may reach a point where you’d rather avoid trying. Therefore, when you meet someone who feels compatible, you may unconsciously engage in choices that sabotage the connection before it can form.

3. Unexplained Symptoms

These signs can be emotional and/or physical. What they most have in common is that you can’t understand why they’re happening.

4. Self-Numbing

This is a more insidious form of #2 above. You avoid possibly positive connections by shutting down any openness to change. Such an approach can arrive in the form of self-medication through substances or activities that dull your interest in relationships.

A trickier version to identify is controlling. Since you’re often alone, you take to controlling all aspects of your life. This can make it appear and feel as if there’s no room for relationships in your life.

Can We Heal from Attachment Trauma?

The short answer: Absolutely yes. Somewhere inside you is a scared and frustrated child who didn’t get a fair shot at being comfortable with other people. The good news is that you can still help that inner child.

It’s not your fault that your upbringing was a challenge. If you keep this in mind, you may find yourself feeling more receptive to recovery and healing.

More good news: Even in adulthood, you can change your attachment style. This would be the goal of any treatment plan for attachment trauma. Working with an experienced, trauma-informed therapist can set you on a path toward:

  • Greater self-esteem
  • Healthy communication
  • Acceptance and self-acceptance
  • Learning how to set boundaries
  • Relationships that enrich your life

It’s time to thrive again. Let’s connect and make it happen.