Kanani M. Bellomo, M.S., LMFTA - Attachment Counseling for Individuals, Couples and Families
Attachment Disorder and Resources

First, let's look at some potential causes of attachment disorder.

  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Separation from primary caregiver
  • Changes in primary caregiver
  • Frequent moves and/ or placements
  • Trauma
  • Maternal Depression
  • Maternal use of drugs or alcohol
  • Undiagnosed painful illness such as colic, ear infections, etc.
  • Young or inexperienced mother with poor parenting skills

Below you will find some brief descriptions of maladaptive attachment patterns. The descriptions are not all in inclusive and are not meant to be a diagnostic tool. These are, however, behaviors parents commonly see in children with attachment disorder.

Anxious Attachment
  • Needy, clingy, severe separation anxiety
  • Incessantly chatters to control conversation
  • Appear to be eager to please, superficially compliant.
  • Often passive aggressive

Avoidant Attachment
  • Are often overlooked as they are very compliant, agreeable & superficially engaging,
  • Lack depth to their emotions & functions – robotic like, not genuine or real in emotional engagement.
  • Don’t enjoy being around others because they don't feel safe.
  • Are Omnipotent – believing that they can care for all their own needs by themselves, and do not need others, especially their mothers.
  • Are sullen and openly oppositional, but mostly in a passive aggressive way.

Disorganized Attachment
  • Disorganized behavior and a bizarre showing a variety of symptoms.
  • Hide anger deep inside, they are easier to deal with, harder to treat.
  • Often will have mental illness in the family history.
  • Are excessively excitable

Ambivalent Attachment
  • Angry, defiant, can be violent.
  • Pushes affection away to keep control
  • Can be affectionate when they want something
  • Destructive
  • Sabotage or destroy almost everything positive that happens to them
  • Have few friends if any, although they will say they do, listing several acquaintances – keep friends only for a short time
  • Unable to give or receive love
  • Lack empathy for others – often cruel to animals and other children.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
  • Superficially charming and engaging, especially with strangers
  • Indiscriminate affection, often to strangers
  • Triangulation of adults; pitting one against the other
  • Poor eye contact, except when angry or lying
  • A severe need to be in control
  • Hypervigilant
  • Hyperactive
  • Argumentative, often over insignificant things
  • Frequent tantrums or rage
  • Demanding or clingy
  • Trouble understanding cause and effect
  • Poor impulse control
  • Lacks morals, values, and spiritual faith
  • Little or no empathy
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Lying for no apparent reason
  • False allegations of abuse
  • Destructive to property or self
  • Stealing
  • Constant chatter; nonsense questions
  • Abnormal speech patterns
  • Developmental / Learning delays
  • Fascination with fire, blood and gore, weapons, evil
  • Food issues
  • Few or no friends
  • Attitude of entitlement and self-importance
  • Sneaks things without permission even if he could have had them by asking

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