What is Attachment Disorder?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Attachment disorder, sometimes called reactive attachment disorder, is based on the concept that the infant/caretaker bond can be disrupted for any of a variety of reasons. As a result, the child may not form normal attachments with adults, not wanting to be touched and showing other signs of distrust for authority figures. A premature baby who is hospitalized for the first few months of life or a child living in an orphanage for three to six months prior to being adopted may display such symptoms. A physically or sexually abused child, or merely a neglected one, may also fail to form attachments with adult caregivers.

Therapy can help children with attachment disorder.
Therapy can help children with attachment disorder.

In infants as young as six months, signs of attachment disorder may surface as poor crying response or excessive crying. A child may not want to be touched or held, and especially may not want to be cuddled. The child may not visually track adults who are responsible for care and may not respond to smiles. Motor skills like crawling, sitting up and creeping may also be delayed. As the child ages, these motor skills may continue to be delayed and developmental milestones like walking and talking may be reached far later than average.

A strong bond between mother and baby is integral to proper attachment.
A strong bond between mother and baby is integral to proper attachment.

Strangers may wonder how a charming, and seemingly precocious and affectionate child would be classed with such a disorder. As such children mature, they do tend to be overly friendly with strangers, and even affectionate. They seem to exhibit no "stranger-danger" sense, and are often quite chipper and chatty. With caregivers, however, the child may show other behavior, like lying continuously, never making eye contact, impulsiveness, and in worst case scenarios, cruelty to animals or destruction of property.

A child with attachment disorder may not respond to smiles.
A child with attachment disorder may not respond to smiles.

What concerns many parents who have adopted children with attachment disorder, or who have watched children go through many hospitalizations, is that the child may appear to have no moral compass and no conscience. He or she also may be obsessed with very dangerous elements, like fire. The child may have difficulties making or keeping friends. Other symptoms of this disorder include learning difficulties, no regard for effects of dangerous behavior, poor sleeping, and poor eating patterns.

Depression and intense moods are symptoms of attachment disorder.
Depression and intense moods are symptoms of attachment disorder.

One of the hallmarks of attachment disorder is a continued distrust of adult and authority figures. Distrusting adults makes sense to the child because he or she has formed no lasting bond with an adult and fears adults in general. Especially if the child feels mistreated by adults, even when that mistreatment was kindly meant, like surgical interventions or daily blood tests in a hospital setting, the child’s response is that adults should not to be trusted.

A child may develop an attachment disorder as a result of neglect.
A child may develop an attachment disorder as a result of neglect.

This disorder is often masked by overly affectionate behavior, especially with adoptive parents. The child may love to cuddle and will willingly say affectionate words. Their other behavior suggests fear, mistrust, and even vehement hate against adults, however, and many also suffer from no self-esteem. They feel themselves to be essentially bad, essentially unlovable, and that something is wrong with them. In an infant’s developing mind, the infant controls the universe. As a result, all bad things that happened to the infant are seen as the fault of the child.

Someone with an attachment disorder may overly crave attention from their partner.
Someone with an attachment disorder may overly crave attention from their partner.

Attachment disorder can be aided through therapy. Therapy must be consistent and help provide the caregiver with a way to give the child the attachment he or she missed out on. This is gradual, and can be frustrating for the parent. One therapy that is not endorsed by any psychiatric agency is forced holding of the child. This is considered a dangerous practice that may worsen the disorder.

Two forms of therapy are the most common: theraplay, and dyadic developmental therapy. Parents who suspect their child may have attachment disorder may benefit from either therapy, as will their afflicted child, and both are endorsed by most mainstream mental health organizations. Both work to help the child learn to attach to adults and gradually overcome earlier neglect, abuse or failure to attach for medical reasons.

It should be noted that a child with one or two symptoms might not have attachment disorder. A child who lies, for example, may merely need help learning to be truthful. A diagnosis is made by examining the child’s history and by looking at patterns of symptoms that suggest the deeper disorder. Other conditions may cause some of these symptoms, but may require treatment in a completely different manner.

The signs of attachment disorder in young children may include excessive crying.
The signs of attachment disorder in young children may include excessive crying.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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It has always been a struggle for me to accept the fact that the damage done in the formidable years (from the typical AAD causes) was not God's perfect will for me, that it can't be undone, and that I will always be detached from people in an embarrassing, uncomfortable and awkward life.

But I do have the comforter who is the Holy Spirit and He will never forsake me altogether. His divine assistance is available for those who will be saved through the plan of salvation known as the Gospel (look it up if you don't know it).

We shouldn't love this life, but abide patiently faithful and waiting on the Lord to make it right. After all, this life even at it's best, is short, sorrowful, and ultimately useless if it is all we are to have. (Ps. 27:10, Isaiah 49;15, John 3, John 14:16, Romans 12:17-21, 2 Cor. 12:9)


This is something to work on long term. Or, if you are OK with it, you isolate. Find a counselor with a solid background in pt therapy with this issue


I'm 18 and a female. When I was a baby, my mother was always working and my father was distant. He never shows affection towards anybody, really. As a toddler, I would reject affection from most family members except for my grandmother and some cousins. If they'd kiss me, I'd wipe it off. That's only one example.

Most of the time, I don't care about my actions. I believe in an eye for an eye really, to justify things. I get jealous very easily and I hate the way I look, no matter how many compliments I get. I actually hate compliments in general, but insults make me angry. I have a short temper and an attitude and have been known to fight.

There are many people I care for though, but I'm codependent for the most part. However people need to prove themselves to me because I don't trust easily. I'm always afraid people are going to screw me over or something.

Two months ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of three years for lying. I didn't mean to. It was out of anger and hurt. I flipped on him but I didn't mean to. I was never more attached to anyone than him. I've tried getting back together but he said no. And I didn't understand why, because I never lied to him or anything. I was overly attached, which isn't normal. I always feel alone when he's not with me, even if I'm surrounded by others. I have a new boyfriend now, but he's getting attached and I'm not. It actually feels weird, and I don't know if I trust him or not.

Some girl tried hugging me after the first five minutes of meeting me and it bothered me. I did things to make her not like me on purpose. Another time, some guy who I just met slapped me because he liked me or something and I was paying more attention to somebody else. So I attacked him. I paid more attention to the other person because he came on too strong.

I've been through a lot in life. I wasn't abused. However my worst experiences were in sixth grade from "friends" who used to gang up on me and fight me, and also in the last few years, too.

When I was younger, I was overly friendly, but not many people liked me. Some self help skills were delayed and I think that's why. But being overly friendly was how I made those "friends." We stopped talking but I'm still terrified of them.

I also am a risk-taker. If something looks fun, I'll do it. A lot of people also died in my life and that hit me hard, too.

My new boyfriend and me were talking and he said he thinks we're serious and I don't know. I told him I'm wary of getting attached to him because of my ex. I loved my ex so much and when we broke up,

it ripped my heart out. Now I don't feel like I can love anyone else like that because we were best friends, even before we were together.

Is it possible I have this? Because some of the signs describe my personality and really, it would explain a lot. How do I feel better?


To post 58: If your father was distant, and you don't remember your mother hugging you, then they didn't nurture you, and your fight/flight is in overdrive - when people try to get close, we are scared of them because of the lack of nurturing.

Knowing that has helped me enormously, and I now feel truly close to people, and even have a boyfriend for the first time in 20 years who I can tell my real feelings to without being scared.

Hang in there - knowing the reason will make you feel much much better!


My partner was adopted at four months from an orphanage in Lille. I have always wondered why he does not contact his adoptive parents or his adopted sister or maintain contact with his good friends, why he does not have ambition for us (partner and mother of his four children).

After discussing this with him recently, he said that he feels no attachment and cannot understand empathy, yet he will often state that he loves me. I have struggled with his lack of understanding and empathy the whole 24 years we have been together but I manage it because I understand that he cannot help it and in some way needs us and I love him somehow.

He is a good man, but I have struggled with the lack of emotional connection. This site has enabled me to label him, but this label will not change my emotional isolation because even though he recognizes his lack of empathy, he will never understand how it has affected me/us.


I am 54 and though undiagnosed, I match up with nearly all the symptoms of AAD. I was not abused as a child and am not sure why I would have AAD though my father was distant and I have no memory of being hugged by my mother. Asperger's syndrome runs in my family and I probably have a touch of that.

I was very poor at making friends as a child and would "go through" friends. This has continued into adulthood. As a young adult, I was smart and funny and could be charming and went out with many women. Invariably, if I got one to like me I would turn ambivalent and then drop her. I did this probably a dozen times in a dozen years. On the other hand, I pined forever for the women who dumped me.

I eventually got married to a woman who didn't like me that much (her father told her to marry me because I had a good job). I hoped she would smother me in affection but this did not happen (I chose a woman who would not). Marriage has been an emotional roller coaster for me of continual feelings of abandonment. My wife tells me I seem to have no emotions while I feel like there is often a massacre going on inside me. I hide almost everything until sometimes I explode.

I know I am emotionally unstable but feel like Jekyll and Hyde. My wife probably thinks I am crazy. I crave friendship and companionship, only to reject it once I get it. I crave approval and loathe myself when I don't get it and also when I do get it. My life is a continual lie, pretending to be honest and good and happy and loving when I am none of these things.

I was raised religious but hope there is no afterlife because I expect I will go to hell. I have tried hard to be good to my children and show them affection, though I fear I have failed. I look back at my past and regret nearly everything I have ever done, even the things that would seem positive.

I have tried therapy, herbs, drugs, have read countless books, fasted, prayed, exercised, dieted, meditated and literally whipped myself. I am tormented by my past, thinking that if I had just done such and such differently maybe I wouldn't be where I am. I feel like I am programmed to undermine my own happiness.


I just found this website and find some comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone. I am 53 years old and feel like I have lived in a pit of despair since I came out of the womb.

My mother had another child before me who somehow died after it was born. I never felt that my mother loved me and she would always lament the fact that she had a girl instead of a boy. The nicest thing my mother ever said about me as a child was to my father one day when he came home from work: “She was good today. She stayed outside and didn't bother me all day.”

Both my parents were alcoholics. I was very afraid of my father. He had a terrible temper, and would kick and throw things and swear and be very verbally abusive to me and my mother. I had no siblings, but had a cat, which I lived in fear of my father killing.

I always felt like a misfit in school too, didn't have many friends and never had a date. I met a man who somehow loved me and got married at 33, but after nine years, I told him I wanted a divorce. He was very good to me, but it was never enough. As someone else astutely noted, I do believe we are seeking the unconditional love we didn't get as children.

I don't know what the answer is, either. I have screamed and cried and begged God to help me. I really can't tell if I'm making any progress. I just broke up with a guy I'd been seeing for two years because he told me he wants to be with another woman. He would say he loved me, but always referred to me as his "friend."

I have AD, the clingy type, and he is a love avoidant. I have run back to him many times before, because being alone brings unbearable pain and thoughts of suicide. I really don't know what to do with myself except I know I can't burden my friends with my problems.

I am getting the sense that I need to solve my own problems. I am grateful to be able to vent here anonymously. God bless all of us who suffer from this disorder, at least in a sense we have each other here!


please give me more information about adult attachment disorders.

I was a child who was severely abused by both parents, then at the age of 12 i became the ward of the state. I was pushed into many different group homes and cast around like trash. Here I am in my 50's and have suffered with so much. I'm just reaching out for help.


I recently ended a relationship with a man who had anxious attachment disorder and who lied to me repeatedly since I met him, which he confessed to me after seven months that he had lied. He said he did not know why he continued to lie – he just did. He had recently begun to see a therapist which I had encouraged him to do for months and was so glad and proud of him for trying to get help.

I empathized with him throughout our entire relationship. I am an extremely understanding and compassionate woman. I am also easygoing and felt with enough patience, love and understanding he and I could work towards building a wonderful relationship together.

Problem was, I never quite knew where I stood with him. He was great at talking about the relationship, romance, etc., but when it came down to it, things where a whole other story. He kept me at arm's length much of the time. One week we were dating and the next we were friends (it felt like). He was unable to have heart-to-heart talks without getting upset, and usually he would break down (which made me feel terrible for bringing up whatever I had). I loved him and still do but it was evident as time went on, that we were going nowhere with the relationship and he most likely needed the time and space to continue to heal and work on things in therapy.

I brought this up a few times before ending things with him and mentioned to him that in therapy he would be working hard to heal and maybe it wasn't fair of me to expect him to stay in the relationship with me and be available while he was going through therapy. He told me he needed me more than ever and did not want end things and couldn't stand thinking of me dating someone else. But eventually we went back to the ambivalent state we usually were in.

It was a painful decision to end things with him, but I felt like it was my only option as he may have never been truly available.


A most effective, empirically validated treatment (empirical studies published in professional peer-reviewed journals), and that is evidence-based, is Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. A great book for parents is: Becker-Weidman, A., & Shell, D., (2010) Attachment-Facilitating Parenting, Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson publishers.


This site has been so helpful. My boyfriend recently broke up with me and I believe he suffers from this disorder. He was very untrustworthy, played the blame game, and broke up with me (without telling me) over something that we never even discussed. Several times I didn't even know why we were apart for two weeks at a time. Though we have been broken up for a month now, I am praying that he has the courage to get some help. He is a lonely guy. He had some issues with his Mom, who I believe has the same disorder.


Has anyone found any one modality, or combination of modalities, in therapy which has had real efficacy? The sense I get, in reading these posts for the first time today, is that most feel a sense of being caught in the labyrinth with the minotaur of their "illness," with little sense of how to find their way back to terra firma.


Wow, what a page to find. Having read all the posts on the page, I was overwhelmed and touched by people's honesty and bravery. I found some comfort in knowing that other people have experienced broadly similar problems. The most touching thing I noticed was the incredibly generous and supportive words from women who've either been in or are in a relationship with somebody with attachment disorder.

Most were saying, "urge your partner to get help," which was a massive relief and the minority were saying, "get out quick", which is terrifying to read because this is what we fear the most, (were not worthy, we have a problem, we will be abandoned ultimately at some point). Something I fear the most is that whoever I am with could be so much happier with somebody else. I used to say this to my partner, "Why do you like me" or, "Don't you think you'd be better without me". Heartbreaking to think about it. So, thanks to all those supportive women. I can't tell you how reassuring it is to know that there are people out there who are willing to support partners through what is a really difficult issue.

I had an incredible girlfriend for six years. I was a very lucky guy. The perfect girl maybe. She was caring, loving, family orientated, would have been a natural Mum, able to talk and relate, generous, always put me first, thoughtful and a hundred other qualities too (as well as being beautiful and sexy). After six years of me pushing her away and testing her, the relationship finally dissolved. It was pretty amicable (thank God) as I couldn't have coped without her. It was the breakdown of the most valuable thing in my life that got me looking for answers. Not that I hadn't know there were problems before that.

Anyway, here's a few symptoms or issues from the past and present that I've scribbled down. Suddenly, the answer became clear. It hit me hard as I knew that i was broken and I'd have to work hard (maybe over the course of my lifetime to try to put myself back together).

I'm 30. I've been through dozens and dozens of girls. Had only one girlfriend ever. Lasted six years. I walked away from it having pushed her away.

I let friends come and go. I have dozens of superb friends. A few brilliant friends. I haven't spoken to many of them in weeks. Distant from brother/sister/parents/grandparents. No (not low) self-confidence.

Deep sense of self loathing.

Self loathing rests on actual (not imagined problems) no short term memory, can't route map or sequence and practically numerically dyslexic.

Feel cold, alone, depressed, isolated and suicidal (at times), which come in waves.

I often project a much more upbeat exterior when I'm in company, which makes me feel fraudulent.

Can be energetic (but often listless and without direction). Scared of being 'found out.'

Superficially charming. Describe myself as a 'gregarious loner' liking parties, but also, periods of relative isolation.

No-self esteem is reinforced by family not calling. Never shown love to Mum or Dad and they've never shown it to me. Never hug or kissed Mum or Dad. Hated father for years.

Hurt (lied and stole from) friends and animals as a child. Inappropriate behaviors and response.

Very poor behavior as a kid. Was physically punished regularly by Mum and Dad.

Do anything to avoid confrontation. Dangerously full of anger and frustration.

Desperately seeking love. Try to gain affection of more or less every woman I see.

Addictive behavior. Porn and exercise.

Recently met a girl. She's fantastic. After one month I'm no longer interested. Like I simply switched the 'off' button.

I know none of this explains actual attachment disorder as I have no narrative or knowledge of what happened in the first three years. I can only imagine that I was parented in a loving, but cold way. My younger sister should have been parented Ina a more progressive way (as parenting moves on and parents change the way they deal with successive children), but I strongly remember my sister being left to cry in her room. I can also remember the justification form this was, "if you comfort them then they'll start to demand it". I guess that gives you an insight into a fairly 'old school' or 'traditional outlook' on parenting.

I guess I'm now at the point where I have some clues as to the problem and the cause. I'd really appreciate any advice people might have as to good therapies or practical day today advice. I want to put myself back together so I don't have to put anymore friends/family/partners through the horrible cycles of my behaviors anymore.

Any advice would be great. Thanks for posting your experiences. --Howard (UK)


I have been with my boyfriend for a year now and we have recently broken up. I find it hard for him to listen to my feelings. If I'm hurt, he always acts like he is the victim. i do everything for this guy i have bent over backward for him to trust me. But he just can't or doesn't want to.

Now after breaking up with him, he said he wanted to be with me forever and that he won't give up. two days later agreed that this was the best thing to do and now wants nothing to do with me?

is this normal behavior? what are the chance of him coming back to me?


I'm Saul, I'm 23 and feel very overwhelmed with the things I've just learned about attachment disorder. I've been thinking maybe I was just complex or blaming the stars for my disturbing and inexplicably complicated reactions. This page describes me perfectly as a baby, child, and now as a young adult.

At the moment, I'm recovering from a breakup with an incredible woman that I believe I truly love. The two-year relationship ended tragically because I could not contain my anxieties and frustrations. I accused her of lying to me or planning to break things off without having any real evidence of this. I was so sure that her intentions were malicious or for personal gain and that there was no way she actually cared about me.

Without talking about it too much, she couldn't handle the stress and negativity, called me unstable and had to end it. I don't blame her. I didn't know I was capable of causing this much torment in the life of someone I feel so intensely for.

What caused me to start looking for answers wasn't how all this played out. It was the fact that I could not do with her what I've so easily been able to do to everyone else. I could not just cut her out. I've casually been able to end every relationship I've ever had with anyone in my life. Parents, friends, family, girlfriends, whatever. The idea I guess was that I'm going to kill you before you kill me.

Even before things ended for good with this girl, I attempted this tactic on her and could not go through with it. And now that all trust has been betrayed and my worst fears actualized, I can still not accept terminating this relationship.

It's bizarre and troubling. I feel stymied mentally as if I were diseased. I'm going to seek help, but my options are limited.

Responding to the anonymous poster that said people are people, let them be, I would say that pages like this exist as an aid to people who, by themselves, seek to change.


I’ve just had another new partner walk out on me. I’ve known him for years, and had known that he fancied me, but I always kept him at arm’s length, and was angered if ever he told me he had stronger feelings for me. Instead, I always opted for flings, body contact without emotion, or concentrated on people that were emotionally unavailable so that it wasn’t me who had the issues.

I would go for years sometimes without talking to this guy, even when he tried to get in touch with me, but ignored him. I saw it as nothing new. I did that with most of my friends, even ones I liked a lot.

I’ve noticed some patterns in my behavior that I have tried to fix, but this four week situation with my last partner has proved that I was only kidding myself. I really believed all of those times that I was right to do the things that I did, even though some were dreadfully hurtful to people who I felt I loved.

I too was plagued with nightmares of abandonment. In my childhood it was always my mother dying, someone trying to kill her and I would always try to be her protector. Then came the nightmares of boyfriends leaving me or dying. In the morning I would just feel angry with them and push them away; like a way to prepare myself to emotionally detach.

One of my year-long relationships (the usual time it used to take for one of us to leave for good, it’s much shorter now) was with a person who may have also had AAD. He just called it being a “child of divorce”, and that was the first time I thought my parent’s divorce could have an affect on my adult relationships. That was at 21! I repeatedly flew into a rage and broke up with this guy, as he occasionally did with me too, until after several months of counseling, I had the “strength” to walk away without crawling back a few days later.

Now I wish it was only a divorce I had to contend with as a child! My mother clearly has many problems, was sexually abused, had parents who abandoned her for months at a time and were emotionally and physically abusive and cold. I have always felt sorry for my mother, and tried to understand and resolve how she must have felt as a child, perhaps for some years trying to counsel her. But in all that time I have completely buried the effect her behavior has had on me. Only now my relationships, one after another, end with my erratic behavior forcing them out, I realize I need to address my own childhood issues.

I don’t know if this is right, but I feel I need to feel sorry for myself, see myself as a complete victim in all this, rather than the evil person my adult relationships would have me believe I am. That probably what makes me so sure I am right all the time; it’s that “I am the victim in this!” trying to get out from childhood.

I don’t know if this is the same for anyone else, but looking back, I realize now that most of my adult relationships have started by accident, i.e. drunkenly ending up with someone. I don’t have any courage with people I initially fancy, so it always seems to be someone whom I don’t feel anything for that I end up with. Unfortunately, as soon as I start to have feelings for them, my behavior escalates so much that it scares them away. Which is obviously the worse thing that can happen! How many times they have stood at the door asking me if I really wanted them to go, and I’m dying inside, but I always tell them “yes”.

Finding a partner seems to be getting harder and harder for me, as I want a steady relationship like my friends have been able to have, but I am now avoiding attachment.

I feel really fortunate that this recent partner was able to help discover a few more pieces to the puzzle that is my life! I am going to seek out attachment therapy and hopefully make some progress before I convince myself that being alone is the best thing for me.

I know it’s difficult to stay with someone who has AAD, but really that is what they need. No one should ever be a “punching bag” for anyone though, and sometimes staying can do more damage than good. Definitely tell them to get help, and if they do, then try to stay with them, even if it’s not in a proper relationship. A few years ago I started taking judo classes, and it was so odd to be in other people’s physical space, but I think contact-sports/activities can really help in letting others get a tiny bit closer to you.

Adam Walker

I want to kill myself. Not literally, but I am so frustrated. I was adopted, sexually abused by my parents bio son who has down syndrome of sorts. My dad died when I was 12, after I spent time in a couple of foster homes and a group homes. After that, I became homeless for a number of years.

I am currently awaiting an arraignment for "stalking" against someone I love very much. She used to work in a group home i lived in. I sent her tons and tons of letters.

There was never any tactile stimulation growing up. Especially not in group homes. No touching. Ever.

I am in paramedic school, trying to make something of myself. I am loaded with nervous energy. I can only sleep snuggled with someone. I can't ever have a relationship with someone I like. I become angry, then extremely emotional about it, showing that anger against someone I cared about. I have never had a relationship longer than two weeks. After I realize I like someone, I fall so fast that I tell them all the crap life has been. They always tell me to see a counselor and I never see them again, not even friends.

I try not to become so depressed but I need help. I know more about obsessive rad than my counselor. I am miserable. I want to be cuddled and loved so much, so when an opportunity arises, emotionally I code on scene. It scares the women who liked me before Mr. Hyde showed up. I have no friends. They are all superficial.

I need help! I need love and I can't have it. Life is pointless.


I have four failed marriages. I have become distanced from four of my six children. I have moved thirty-plus times in the last 35 years. Friends that I make, I drop as soon as I leave the city or state I lived in. For all of this, I really don't care.

My mother was negligent and my father sexually abused me and my two sisters. I hate being touched but crave it even though I know touching hurts. I am bi-polar. Meds help somewhat with that but does nothing for the attachment part. I only realized that I have an attachment disorder. I seem friendly and caring at first. I did not even realize I was doing it. I have acted normal so long it seems on the outside that I am but I am not. I feel empty and worthless. Help!


My therapist tried "holding therapy" on me. I didn't know it at the time. He would act furious at me and lay on top of me. Thank God he never tried the "rebirthing" on me.

But I never understood why he was mad and the therapy hurt me more because I had no idea if he wanted to rape me and just stopped himself and suddenly held me and was kind and gentle again. I had no idea and thought he was the insane one.

Actually, anyone who does holding therapy *is* insane. This practice should be illegal. I was severely neglected and verbally abused as a child. As an adult, I have no relationships and whenever one starts to build and gets too close I push it away completely.

I am very apathetic and outwardly I may look happy or caring and sweet, but inwardly I can barely feel at all except fear and desire to control. Oh well right.


I'm 18 and I don't like the simple fact that I have issues with males. My brother and I were very close when I was a child and now he moved away to another state, got married and now has his own daughter. My father is somewhat the same story. He used to take me and my sister places and spend time with us then we moved away and came back and now you can't pay him to spend time with us. He doesn't even call to make sure we're still alive.

I have no problem making friends, but keeping them is another story. I don't like being touched or showing affection to females. Whenever I meet males who start showing me affection, I lose it and don't know what to do. Then when we part and go our separate ways, it feels like someone stomped on my heart.

The last time that happened, I had only known the guy for three weeks. It's not like we were dating. We were just friends. I guess he liked me or maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. Now it seems like all I want to do is spend time with my brother and I know that he is busy raising his kids. My two uncles who were like my father died when I was younger and the other one died when I moved away.

I just feel like everybody should just leave me alone because they don't really care anyway. My father drinks all the time. I had a rabbit that made me feel like life was worth the disappointment but he died. Now I don't even want to take care of the pets that I have. They don't care about me either. As long as they're getting food, water and a clean cage they don't care. I just want to know if the abrupt absence of my father, brother and uncles has anything to do with the way I feel toward females and the way I act toward males.


My daughter just left a relationship with a man who most likely has AAD. She tried for many years to make the relationship work but was always pushed away in the end. No matter what she did it wasn't enough or right. She never knew which person she would be coming home to.

He can be very charming and kind one minute and then very angry for an imagined slight, I hope he gets some help before he gets into another relationship. I fear it will be a never ending cycle for him.


My partner was part of Operation Babylift. As a six year old from Vietnam, he came to Australia to adoptive parents. He is a beautiful soul, wise and gentle. However, he is able to cut people off easily.

We have been together six years and as soon as we get close, he shuts down. He controls our environment and has to have control of all the household duties. He hates change. He has trouble with communication and can't cope with conflict.

For the first time in our relationship we had a 'fight,' as he has withdrawn all physical contact and I asked him why. He says he loves me but says we should split as he will only cause me pain. I am so confused. I know why he is behaving this way, but I don't know what to do about it. Help, please.


Wow, thank you all for these postings. I dated, first for a month earlier this year, and then for another month just recently, a man who, I now understand, has attachment disorder.

It was, both times, a crazy roller coaster. He would be very interested in me, and then the next day be very rude and push me away. The reason I was able to finally make a decision to never see him again, was that he casually told me one day "the reason you and other women are interested in marriage is to get a better situation in life, a better living situation, better home, better finances." I answered "no, women want to be in loving relationships, other things are comparatively insignificant". He strongly disagreed with me.

I was so disgusted I asked him to never contact me again. I am grieving and I needed to read all your comments.


I can relate to a lot of what everyone's saying. My partner of three years has always treated me differently to any other relationship I've had. He hardly ever looks in my eyes when he speaks to me, he doesn't smile often. He also has a crazy temper that scares me.

He acts robotic in a lot of ways and even calls himself heartless, because he can't relate to me a lot of the time. He also finds it impossible to empathize or get close to people. His friends are interchangeable. He'll see certain friends all the time for a few months, then stop talking to them altogether for anywhere up to a year. Even though they haven't offended him in any way, he just stops talking to them. Then the cycle will start again.

He has told me he can forget anyone if he wants to -- all he does is distract himself, and then he simply stops thinking about them. It's something I just can't get my head around, because I'm the complete opposite. In the past when we've had issues (due to his attachment problem) and we've broken up, I've felt like he just got over our relationship straight away, as if i meant nothing to him. It broke my heart.

In the end, i told him that i love and miss him, but I can't deal with not feeling loved in return, and he agreed that he needed to change, and he has been trying so hard in so many ways, but it's something that can't be changed overnight.

Having said all that, he is funny, honest, goofy, and completely on my wavelength. I just wish that there was a way to help him through this. He realizes he has a problem, and we've spoken about how it arose, but he won't go to counseling, even though he wishes he could change.

He also has dreams about me cheating on him or abandoning him quite often, which i see as another sign of his fear of abandonment. But it makes me think that maybe through love and persistence he has managed to become somewhat attached to me.

Even though i know it sounds unhealthy to hope for such things, i figure any change in his reluctance to attach is a positive thing. Maybe his issues are being brought to the surface.

I know it will be a slow process, but i can truly see so much change in him since we first met. I want to tell the partners of people suffering with this disorder that you don't have to give up on them.

Honestly, i do find it really hard at times because i want him to be affectionate and loving and understanding right now, but in the three years that we've been together he's been able to cry to me, move in with me, and appreciate our relationship and what i do for him, rather than just getting bored and moving on. He has never been able to do these things in past years. He actually stayed single for years at a time, and when he did start seeing someone, he was lucky if he could commit to a month with them before he ran away.

His family and friends have commented on the change in him since we got together. I refuse to believe that people with this disorder just get bored or are cruel. I have my own anxiety and depression issues, and my partner has done his best to support me, as i have done for him.

I think of both of us as damaged, just in different ways, and all we need is love, support, understanding, patience and time from each other to heal, in addition to a feeling of independence (because otherwise we would both go crazy!).

I'm so proud of my partner and how far he has come so far, and i hope he knows that i appreciate how hard he has worked to get here.

If your partner is dealing with this disorder, be supportive, and most importantly, take the time to really listen and hear their point of view. Chances are they don't want to feel the way they do, they want to let you in, they just don't know how.

Maybe I'm just a crazy optimist, but i believe in the power of love.


I am very glad to have found this series of posts about attachment disorder. I didn't find out I had it until last year and here’s what I wrote about it. I'm not crazy, and you probably aren't, either.

The following is a description of the metamorphosis I underwent Easter Sunday 2009. If you have been struggling with relationships, anxiety, depression, feeling disconnected, we may be in the same pack.

I googled "emotional damage" on Easter Sunday 2009, and discovered the primary reason why I started having panic attacks at age 12. It was the result of my parents ignoring me and never supporting me or showing affection caused actual organic brain damage.

I have never had the ability to trust enough to accept and enjoy emotional intimacy. I'm really pissed that it took 57 years for me to find out, but it's a big relief. I can let myself off the hook for being "crazy and weird", and accept that my panic when offered friendship and intimacy is a typical reaction given the injury to my brain chemistry. Quite the revelation.

I'm looking at my entire being in a new way.

I'm still very angry that I've been pursuing recovery from being "defective" - after 38 years of therapy (not every year, but most of the time), 25 years in AA, 13 years trying to find medication to help, and a constant feeling that I'm abnormal, I find out that I have an organic problem - like diabetes, or aspergers. But at the same time, I've let myself off the hook for being weird, and can see myself as a good person with an area of behavior that's different from most people - one that I can work on realistically now, because I'm not afraid of it.

I talked about it with a couple of friends, and they didn't get freaked out and back off.

I learned last week that my parents’ neglect actually damaged my brain's ability to process emotions. My fight/flight reaction goes into overdrive, my amygdala learned to be attracted to unsafe people, and scared of people who care about me.

Starting about age 12, I had panic attacks if emotional intimacy was offered. I have no recollection of my parents ever showing me affection, or each other, for that matter. They only touched me if I was sick, and they had to because I had a temperature.

So after 38 years in various types of therapy, and 13 years trying to find an antidepressant that worked enough to make me feel somewhat "normal," (and take away the panic/anxiety around people), I find out that my anxiety is actually organic; my brain learned about emotions backward in a way, so instead of welcoming people who like me, it scares me - and if it's too much, I literally have an anxiety attack.

Since I was 12, I thought that this anxiety was because I was defective - that my feelings were "wrong". So even though it's a relief to find out that I had actual physical damage, it also pisses me off that I've spent all this time trying to fix the wrong thing - or using the wrong methods. And, thinking of myself as "crazy" because my feelings seem to backfire on me.

This is not news for anyone who works with abused children, but after someone gets to be an adult, no one addresses the problem - it's like now that we're "grownups" the symptoms should not exist anymore. Not.

Here's my favorite thought:

"In the end, what is most important is the integrity of your own mind."

I am very grateful to have found this series of posts. We are all OK, we know what the source of our pain is, there are so many "normal" people who haven't a clue. It is hard being alone, but I feel very sane now. And now that I've found more people who have such similar experiences, I have more hope.


My daughter was an affectionate, outgoing, loving and considerate child. In many ways, she was "too good" of a little girl with a very mild terrible twos stage. I would jokingly tell my friends that I'd pay for it someday. How little did I know my statement would come true.

I kissed my lovely daughter goodbye that Sunday afternoon, hoping she'd have a good experience at Outdoor School, and her younger twin brothers crossed the days off on their calendar until her return.

The moment the returning bus entered the driveway, her brothers said "Oh oh, there's something wrong with Carly," while through the bus window I saw the angry, enraged face of my sixth grade daughter. We greeted her happily and welcomed her home with her favorite meal, and a balloon party, but she would have none of it. Carly continued with surly, mean, hurtful behavior towards all of us.

This escalated into runaway behaviors, failure at school, impulsive decisions, and becoming a danger to herself and others. Every attempt at therapy failed as she ridiculed the therapists, their suggestions, and refused help, support or treatment of any kind. I had her tested for drugs, and there was no sign of drugs.

She escalated over the years into still more controlling behaviors. Her dropping out of school was the least of my worries. My life became a chaos of exhaustion and preoccupation until one day, as I walked back from a neighbor's house, I saw my fourteen year old daughter driving the family car with the neighbor's two year old beside her on the seat.

I ran after the car to stop her, which she did. But as she got out, she laughed the whole incident off as she brushed by me. Carly had been escalating for over three years and I felt helpless. She refused more therapy while keeping the family in as much chaos as she could.

One day I realized I was too exhausted to continue my focus on Carly, and I also realized that her younger brothers had been growing up in their bedrooms because they were afraid of their sister, who, in years past, was their friend.

I finagled an arrangement for a safe place for Carly to "run away" to, presented her with a tough love contract; told her to immediately begin following the simple rules of the contract, or find a place another place to live.

I honestly told her that I had run out of skill and ability to deal with her problems. I knew she'd refuse the contract, and luckily she did run away, but to this safe place for which I had arranged unbeknownst to Carly. She was, by this time, sixteen and a half.

Within six months she began coming by for short visits. I noticed that she was different, and with each visit she became friendlier and friendlier. We began reworking our relationship, and for years it went better. She got her GED went to college and graduated. She developed a very successful business and later she met a wonderful man and got married. Her brothers and she had renewed their old bonds, and her boyfriend seemed to facilitate many wonderful connections and loyalties.

Then at about thirty Carly got married. From the beginning of the wedding plans, I felt her drawing away and closing down. It was all so gradual I didn't want to see it. I helped her out with the wedding, and waited for her calls for assistance. There were never any calls, and for six months, all my calls were not returned.

I rationalized it away with her being very busy. But when the wedding day came, I was deliberately kept out of the wedding pictures. I remember telling the photographer that I was the mother of the bride, but he waved me to one side, out of the pictures. I shrugged my shoulders to the all-too familiar feelings and the reality.

The wedding happened over two years ago. And when Carly got back from her honeymoon she began hurling insults at me, trying to humiliate me in public. She has been in a white-hot rage at me ever since, and there is no reason other than I'm her mother.

I have tried asking her "Why are you doing this?" but the epithets just escalate.

I have stopped going to family get togethers because just the sight of me causes her to rage, disrupting the environment. Accordingly, I just don't feel comfortable wondering, for the twenty-third year, when the other shoe is going to drop.

I am so grateful to my therapist for his support and skill in helping me unravel this bizarre turn of events, and what transpired before it, with my daughter.

I have been able to keep my own integration, and not lose my head in some very tough situations with her over the past years. What my daughter has is adult attachment disorder, which was preceded by adolescent attachment disorder.

I don't know when my daughter subconsciously decided to make the break. I don't know if my bonding and early parenting were so good, that it masked perhaps an earlier attachment disorder that I missed.

Certainly the abandonment by her father was a factor, yet, I often go back to the outdoor school experience. I investigated to see if she might have been molested there. I called, made appointments and showed up at therapists' offices.

Yet, when she had those good years, I began to believe that maybe the tough years had passed. They hadn't. And, typical of attachment disordered persons, they can charm you into believing you have a relationship with them, and then Boom! They press the trap door switch, and there you are in the cellar again. You can almost hear their footsteps as they run away-- again.

It's mother's day, and as usual I will not receive a card. I will not receive a thank you from her. I certainly will not hear "I love you." It used to hurt a lot, but now it just hurts. She created an event for this weekend for her, the husband, her brothers and spouses to spend in another country, I think it's France.

So, I have to once again muster up my courage and face all of this.

I know this has been long, but, thank you for being there. Does anyone have any advice? My heart could be breaking, actually. --Noel


I am a therapist with an attachment disorder. I just wanted to write something hopeful for those of you worrying about whether or not you will ever feel better.

You can feel better. It does take time and you will likely need to form a good bond with a therapist well versed in attachment issues. But please know you will make progress and feel better through time. Take good care of yourself. Some advice: seek out DBT therapy and IFS (internal family systems) therapy.


what is the treatment for adults with attachment disorder?


Do not forget that this situation that you find yourself in is not your fault! The best that you can do is realize what is going on -- and go on.

We all are on very difficult journeys -- all of us. The best thing to do is to live, live, live.

It is okay to live alone. It is okay to be you, even if we are all imperfect. Attachment disorders seem to be the result of how others have treated us, they are not fundamentally who we are.

Maybe we need to be the caterpillar in the cocoon, only to become the butterfly. Best to all and know that you are not alone!


I read your posts, and I think I may have AAD. I relate to the symptom of not feeling connected, and every day is a struggle to move forward.

I have used the term 'cursed' to describe my attitude toward life. I am the 'Jackie' role in the Roseanne show.

Roseanne jumped into life, married and had a family, and rolled with the undulating waves of life. I, on the other hand, have social anxiety, insecurity, and low self-esteem, like Roseanne's high-strung sister Jackie.

For years, I thought I had the condition where the person has an irrational self-loathing, but after my counselor told me she had diagnosed me with AAD, and I read about it, I know they are connected.

I am adopted, but my birth mother put me in foster care, then would bring me 'home', then realized she couldn't care for an infant, so she sent me back, blah, blah blah. I am comfortable in my isolation because it is what I know, but I would give anything to not be comfortable, because I am sad and lonely much of the time.

I want someone, but I don't know what to do with them when I get them, and eventually, they leave because I am depressed and listless, because I know it will be just a matter of time before they figure it out and move on.

Of course, their abandonment sends me over the edge and all I think about is death. I know there is no 'normal', but I wouldn't put this condition on my dog.

Ironically, I feel so fragile and vulnerable, and wonder how I am going to make it one more day, but I am the one who alienated myself from my husband and created the situation I was most fearful of. Go figure.


i never had a connection to my mum and felt many of the things that people here are talking about. it is so hard to trust and open your heart when you have never done it before, but i know that God is the healer i needed!

over the last five years or so i have cried so much in church and God has given me the love i always needed, and that's reality not just an idea of love or a philosophy. God has loved me until i am the person i am today! I am now happily married and my heart is open to my husband and i am starting to have a few close friends!

It's amazing and although most people won't understand, i think you will know that without God my life would still be terrifying and empty.

All i say to you is get down on your knees and ask God to help you. i know it's scary but He won't reject you tho it might be a slow process. Find a church that believes in the God of the bible, the God with standards of right and wrong but whose Mercy is new every morning! Because that's what i needed and that's what you need. JP


I'm 25 and I'm not really sure of all that I "suffer" from. I was adopted when I was five months old. My adoptive home was my fourth home though, as I spent the first two months with my birth mom and the next few months with two different foster moms. I am in no way upset about being adopted. I have always felt lucky and love my mom more than anyone.

My dad left when I was three and my parents officially divorced when I was five. I started therapy when I was five and that continued on and off until I was about 16.

I've been diagnosed with attachment detachment disorder, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder etc. This was confusing as a kid and I really didn't know what to believe.

I can see the attachment disorder and parts of BDP, but there's more that's not making sense. Everything is conflicting. I'm very intelligent, self-aware, humble, usually brutally honest, manipulative and have best friends that I've had anywhere from 8-24 years and I genuinely love them.

I care deeply about my family, best friends and people I date but I abandon 99 percent of my relationships. They start off very intense, and I either sabotage them because of fear and insecurities or I get bored despite everything going well.

I'm a very happy person, buy my fears and anxiety have held me back in life. The thing is that I'm very, very good at hiding things. I understand and can perceive how to come off as grounded, confident, calm -- "normal" -- and it gets me by just fine. If you saw me or talked to me you'd never think I had any issues.

I don't finish about 90 percent of the things I start. Jobs have been rough. I easily get hired, but I am quick to quit. I either quit a few weeks in or on a rare occasion stay for a year or two.

Projects and personal goals are very hard. I lose motivation and interest fast, but that's not to say I don't have interests. They just change often.

I don't know who I really am as far as the things I truly love and hate I guess. And that's only to a point.

Another huge problem is part of me literally feels like I'm 12 or so. Mentally and emotionally I can easily act and carry on conversations of someone 25 or much older, but part of me inside feels 12. I don't see or feel changes in myself over time. I can see changes in those around me physically as well as progression such as marriage, having kids etc. I just want to play video games, paintball, watch movies, buy toys, ride my bike etc. I can get away with this because my friends think it's fun, cute and silly but I genuinely love these things.

Everything else about life seems disconnected to me or scary. I feel very alone and I used to feel like I didn't really exist. I'm perfectly happy, but if I think about it I realize something is a big miss here and don't know what's wrong.

The ironic thing is people think I'm wise beyond my years and that I'm an old soul, which is another reason I get away with acting like a big kid a lot.

I actually own a gym so I talk professionally with people older than I a lot and we get along well and everything is great. It's as if I can be whatever I need to be and I'm more than convincing. It's not all untrue though. A part of every facade I might have to pull off is very real.

I just feel like a paradox and I don't know how much longer I can live life this way. I think eventually I won't be strong enough.


Can an attachment disorder persist through adulthood into old age?

This question was asked in a previous post.

It is my experience that Attachment Disorder is of such a stealthy character, and develops so insidiously, that by the time you actually can put the pieces of the puzzle together you have become the disorder. From there we consequently develop coping mechanisms to survive it.

This doesn't address the issue of treatment, just the difficulty identifying chaos of symptoms. I have, for as far back as I can think, identified myself as broken. Not so easy to fix broken. Attachment Disorder


Bill here, 59 years old. I grew up in an orphanage and state home before returning home with a very dysfunctional mother.

I knew for most of my adult life I had Reactive AD -- I just never knew what to call it until a few years ago.

I need to share about this because it has had me in hell for a lifetime. I am a hugely gregarious person who lives in isolation. I never thought of the diagnosis as an excuse. just a reason.


I am a 49 year old woman with AD. I have been married to a wonderful man for 25 years, and have four children, three of whom somehow didn't inherit my social problems.

Even though I have so many unbelievable blessings, having AD is an empty, lonely existence. I long to laugh. I wish I had friends. Real friends that I felt connected to.

Yes, adult attachment disorder is real. And it sucks.


Thank you for these posts. I have recently begun the process of healing and am trying very hard to find out the causes of my AD. I am the child of immigrants who had to leave me when they came here for a few years.

When I got here my sister was already born and so I had to take a backseat to being a child getting to know her parents and just be a sibling to a baby that needed a lot more attention.

Also, because of the tension between my parents I was abused both verbally and emotionally throughout my childhood. I don't know how to even begin to be myself right now.

Although I am accomplished in my career and seem quite normal on the outside, my relationships have never succeeded and I find myself alone yet again after a horrible breakup.

I am not even sure how to get started but these posts are the first I have read that truly helped me to understand what is really going on. I am going to start by taking an inventory of what I am who I am and my qualities about me that I love. I have noticed that as time went by, everyone else has been getting or doing what they want, but I had never even established what it is that I do even like on a very basic level. That I think for me is the place to start. At least take inventory on what qualities I do have as an adult in her 30's.

The truth is I do not want to miss out on life and the happiness from it anymore. I want to be secure and enjoy my family, friends and anyone else that comes into my life.

Thank you for all the postings here, it does truly help.


I'm dating a person with AD for a year now. He just told me last night that he couldn't reciprocate love, but he doesn't want me to leave him. He said he doesn't want me to feel like he's misleading me.

He saw a psychologist on this feeling before he was told that he needs to come clean. He told me about his childhood abuse and that was a first big step of him trying to open up to me. I wasn't sure what to do or think.

All I know is that I'm in love with this man and I wanted to help. I asked him, if I stick around and show him what love is, is he willing to learn and make effort to learn and he said yes. It's so hard that we are in a long distance relationship and now with this problem and read posts from those who had similar experience with AD people make me so hopeless.

Should I stay and help him out since he's willing to learn with me? or is it a mind game to keep me around until he's ready to get rid of me? I felt his response was sincere, but it could be a very fake one.


I am a middle aged woman with AD, and I've been in therapy on and off for 18 years. I'm highly qualified, but I've never worked. Instead I seek relationships to 'keep' me, but these relationships never meet my needs and ultimately I wind up bored, empty, depressed and desperate.

The problem is that the trauma which causes AD happens so early in life that there is no sense of any alternative and healthy identity. Unlike (say) a woman who is raped aged 30, there is no 'age 29' sense of self to aim for in recovery. So you're setting out in search of an identity you've never actually felt with not much of a clue of hitting the right path even when you do so.

Going back to relationships I suspect that many with AD have so many overwhelming unmet emotional needs that they're not even conscious of those of the people around them. They need to give up on the idea that they're going to find the unconditional love they lacked with their mother, but human beings are so hard wired in this that it's almost impossible. Hence the living in endless emotional needy circles. Even knowing about all of this and accepting it doesn't actually help so it's no wonder so many give up on therapy.

All the therapy, knowledge and research in the world hasn't helped me. Or it's helped me so little that I can't notice it. I'd love to be different. I'd love to be the kind of person people wanted: as an employee, a colleague and a friend, but instead I'm probably someone who most people who have known me would prefer to forget.

And that's not easy to live with.


this post is specifically for Pearle. I hope you will see this. I just wanted to tell you that when I read your post, everything you said felt so familiar i thought maybe I might have written it myself under a pseudonym and forgot!

anyway, I just wanted to say, I feel your pain, I understand (completely!) and I'm so sorry.

I am 47, I have been in therapy/on meds since I was a teenager. For the most part, my life has been a living hell, I despise being this way (constantly sad, depressed, fearful, lonely etc) and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Good luck to you, girl. I hope things have improved for you, although I know it's not likely. please take care of yourself. Beth


To those of you dating a person with Adult Attachment Disorder (AAD) who refuses o seek help, please get out now!

I have learned from experience that these people are expert manipulators, and will constantly have you doubting whether or not you are crazy!

The person that I cared deeply for is unwilling to change and I clearly see that he has made a pattern of detaching when things get too close. This is not my problem. He must get the help that he needs, but honestly, I seriously doubt that he will ever do this because he thinks that mental health therapists are the crazy ones!

I feel a tremendous sense of relief now that I have ended things. I am a patient person, but I just couldn't take this any longer. I deserve better.


Having recently ended a relationship with a man who suffered from Adult Attachment Disorder (AAD), my sympathies go out to all of you. Although I dated this man for six months, I ALWAYS felt as if I were in the relationship alone. Even after my gentle attempts to get him to open up to me, I always felt like I was doing all of the work in the relationship.

I think that in order for those of us who have feelings for, love, and/or are married to and have children with these individuals that we not take their problems on.

The bottom line is that these people need help. Adult Attachment Disorder (ADD) is something that was on the scene way before we entered this person's life! This is not about us, or about what we are or are not doing! Again, it is important to not take on the many issues that come with the person who suffers from AAD. But once you tell them about therapy, and they refuse, it's time to move on. Healthy relationships are about give and take, compromise and openness, and the person who suffers from AAD is not capable of giving you this!

I mean, why dance alone? This man is 41 years old, has never been married, engaged, or even in a serious relationship! The minute that things get serious, he runs off! Also, he very rarely talks to his own sisters (his parents are dead), and enters and exits the lives of his friends as if it's the most natural thing in the world!

I know that I deserve better, and that our pseudo-relationship was anything but healthy! I am so happy to be rid of him!


I wonder about a guy I've dated. He seems to not really want the sort of intimacy which builds a great romance preferring instead the "Bridges Over Madison County" sort. He likes long distance, buzzing in and out with high romantic "value".

The way he describes his childhood is that his parents cared but were extremely hands off in that he, basically, grew up out playing with friends. When I met his mom she sat there and watched t.v. for 45 min. From the way he describes her, that's basically the way she is! What do you think?


Pearle, I am so sorry. Let the love of the Lord into your heart. .This cures all, and He will never abandon you! I love you!


I have adult attachment disorder. The suffering is so great and as far as I can remember, I have always had trouble with relationships. I don't know if that is just who I am, the personality I was born with, or if something happened to solidify a tendency to be overly sensitive.

I've been in and out of therapy since my 20's. Every therapist that I feel a bond with, I automatically become overly attached to, so now even those relationships become very frightening *only* because I know that there will come a time of abandonment. Either a relationship dies or deepens -- and certainly, most relationships end. The horrible feeling of being abandoned is indescribable.

For me, and I realize this is totally illogical, however, feelings are what they are, and if I perceive a person rejecting me, the rest of the world does not matter. One rejection negates all other things and people in my life. That one rejection makes my whole life worthless. It is a very painful place to be, yet all the help I have sought out plus my own research does not bring relief.

Despite being well educated, traveled, with two intelligent and well-mannered adult children, loving parents and many who admire me for who I am to them (which I dismiss as their own mistaken view), I currently am jobless and about to lose my home -- all because I can't seem to get over one rejection situation that threw me into a terrible depression for over one year and still going.

I am seeing a psychiatrist every other week (for two years now) for medication and therapy sessions. Every day, I wake up heartbroken because I have become very attached to him now. I just don't know how to get out of this. And staying busy is not an answer.

I crave closeness but never seem worthy of or capable of developing healthy relationships. When others want to develop a relationship, to do so wears me out (have to be perfect) or the person just doesn't accept me (which makes more sense to me).

Why would anyone want to get involved in this mess? I don't even want to myself and try to escape this condition or find an answer daily. Advice appreciated.


Reading the above I guess I am very lucky. But still I do not know if I can live with this problem or if I will end up in a bad place or suicidal. I have my own major problems, BPD (well treated), major clinical depression. I have terrible abandonment issues. This means that when he disappears for days and doesn't answer my desperate messages I go crazy. Also he stands me up for the smallest things and doesn't understand why it is a big deal. And he does not seem to comprehend that a promise is not only an intention but a contract. He has some therapy but it's unlikely that he is dealing with any of this. He is an alcoholic, trying to stay on the wagon, but when he drinks he seems to feel it was warranted (some bad things have happened lately).


I loved and was married to a man with attachment disorder for 24 years. he pushed me away, away, away. I know he loved me but when times got tough all he could do was go to his den. One time he went in his den for nine months straight except for going to work. He had gone through hepatitis c treatment. I tried from the beginning of our married life together to understand him. I asked things like "what do you mean by that comment" when his explanations for an action or comment were hurtful to me. Or I encountered rebuffs of my efforts to know him better, to understand his feelings or lack of them. He pulled away whenever he got uncomfortable with the slightest tone inflection he didn't like often reading things into my sentences that were not there. My motives were pure as I loved this man so very much. I could do nothing correctly no matter how hard I tried to do things his way. I'm pretty flexible having grown up in a household of five kids born in a six-year period and our two parents. He never understood how the five of us could have a disagreement and five minutes later we were laughing. He told me we were all crazy. He was an orphan from another country and was adopted into a home with parents in their fifties. I was not aware that as a baby he was not held. and that the doctors in Germany said to the orphanage that he would never cry and never feel (feel for others) the way normal people do. This I learned about three years after we were married. Only now 18 months into my divorce after 24 years of marriage to this wonderful man am I understanding that I was helpless. This man is too comfortable in his loneliness and isolation with a couple of very superficial friends to change. He tried to be what he can't be but was too scared of treatment. Too scared of intimacy. He told me more than once when we were newly married "You will never know me. Don't even try to figure me out. No one will ever know me." He said it as if I were trying to cut his heart right out of his body. All I wanted was to understand him. As I became ill and disabled by some work related injuries, he pulled away completely. I was not the bubbly, outgoing one who drew him out of himself any longer. I was just hanging on to my own health by a string. He had no trouble closing me out and it seems had not pain over the break whatsoever. Anyone out there who has this disorder please get help. The people who love you need you. ripping a family to shreds because you are comfortable in your isolation is so very selfish and getting well could change all of your lives, not just your own.


Personally I'm an affectionate guy, but I trust authorities, have loving parents, and was never adopted. And I consider myself normal. And P.S. I don't get attached easily to people either. (Meyer's Brigg ENTJ)

Also, I have a friend that is almost the exact opposite, born to a good family like me, and he is considered normal, by me, too. (Meyer's Brigg ISFP)

Let's drug the world for being different, like 1984, because there is no real "normal". :S

I propose everyone who does not have the ISTJ personality be drugged, and punished for thinking with emotion, for being outgoing, for not being detail oriented.

Come on-- people are people. as long as they are not chopping off heads like Vincent Li, I say let people be who they are.

Personally I was just looking at this page because I want to find other people's opinions on very affectionate women. Personally I love them :D


What is the best way to deal with attachment disorder in adults? Is denial common?


I really need some help, I believe my partner has attachment disorder but he won't seek help. I love him so much but he is pushing me and pushing me to leave him, and I feel like I'm cracking up now! He plays power games with me, and tries to control me, making me feel guilty and saying I've picked my friends over him if I go out without him. I can't even suggest going out without him starting an argument, and then the rage kicks in and he is like a different person. I know that when he was a baby he would cry when his mum left his side. Do these sound like the symptoms of attachment disorder to anyone??


Can an attachment issue do the opposite? Manifesting itself in adulthood as very clingy, not wanting to ever be alone, feeling like you are paralyzed with fear when alone? This would be from early prolonged hospitalization in first year through to three. This would be in years where the hospital only had visiting hours and the parents were only allowed to visit at certain times and there were feelings of trauma when they left the building.

If this is an attachment issue, how do you get rid of it? Something bad always happened when my parents weren't there, such as needles, stitches removed, drains removed, etc.

It is hard to function at all now that I am alone.


I worked with attachment disordered kids, all of whom came from abusive backgrounds, however abuse does not necessarily take a physical form. Neglect is abusive. When individuals do not form permanent lasting reciprocal relationships with one or more adult caregivers, and especially if they are moved frequently before such relationships can form, or worse, after they *do* form, such individuals can suffer from attachment disorder. There can be little chance for mature boy-girl relationships with such individuals. Relationships are about trust. Without it, neither parent-child nor boy-girl relationships flourish.


Adults most certainly suffer from attachment disorder. It can manifest in looking for relationships with other adults with the same problem.

The most severe consequences manifesting in very childish dysfunctional relationships with jealousy, addictions, game playing, violence, and depression.

Any normal person would walk away from this, but an adult suffering from attachment disorder will keep going back to see if they have the power to change the dynamics - total insanity!


I'm doing my Master's thesis research on Adult Attachment disorder, So I believe it most certainly does persist into Adulthood, if you think you have it and you think it's related to trauma find a practitioner who specializes in Attachment for kids, from my understanding of it the process for healing is different.


Can attachment disorder continue into adulthood, and is there any way to treat it?


Can an Attachment disorder persist through adulthood into old age? Can an Attachment disorder "Morph" into another type of disorder? Is the change based on experience or an intrinsic function of aging? Does it ever result in a more serious psychopathic disorder? If so, what are its statistical measurements?

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