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Attachment Disorders in a Christian Home

By Tom and Sherry Bushnell


Last week I attended a symposium about Attachment Disorders.  It was very enlightening and helped to shed light on a lot of the struggles I have had as a new foster/adopive mom.  See below from Nancy Thomas’ website but remember there are varying degrees of attachment, children may have only one cause and would need to have at least half of the symptoms before they would be considered to have Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The children I have had contact with from the foster care system so far have had varying degrees of difficulty with attachment.

Attachment is defined as the affectional tie between two people. It begins with the bond between the infant and mother. This bond becomes internally representative of how the child will form relationships with the world. Bowlby stated “the initial relationship between self and others serves as blueprints for all future relationships.” (Bowlby, 1975)

Attachment Disorder is defined as the condition in which individuals have difficulty forming lasting relationships. They often show nearly a complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others. They typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn to trust. They do not allow people to be in control of them due to this trust issue. This damage is done by being abused or physically or emotionally separated from one primary caregiver during the first 3 years of life. “If a child is not attached-does not form a loving bond with the mother-he does not develop an attachment to the rest of mankind. The unattached child literally does not have a stake in humanity” (Magid & McKelvey 1988) They do not think and feel like a normal person. “At the core of the unattached is a deep-seated rage, far beyond normal anger. This rage is suppressed in their psyche.
Now we all have some degree of rage, but the rage of psychopaths is that born of unfulfilled needs as infants. Incomprehensible pain is forever locked In their souls, because of the abandonment they felt as infants.” (Magid & McKelvey 1988) “There is an inability to love or feel guilty. There is no conscience. Their inability to enter into any relationship makes treatment or even education impossible.” (Bowlby 1955) Some infamous people with Attachment Disorder that did not get help in time: Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Edgar Allen Poe, Jeffery Dahmer, and Ted Bundy. One famous person with Attachment Disorder who did get help in time (in 1887!) and became one of greatest humanitarians is Helen Keller.

Attachment Disorder Symptoms

• Superficially engaging & charming
• Lack of eye contact on parents terms
• Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
• Not affectionate on Parents’ terms (not cuddly)
• Destructive to self, others and material things (accident prone)
• Cruelty to animals
• Lying about the obvious (crazy lying)
• Stealing
• No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive)
• Learning Lags
• Lack of cause and effect thinking
• Lack of conscience
• Abnormal eating patterns
• Poor peer relationships
• Preoccupation with fire
• Preoccupation with blood & gore
• Persistent nonsense questions & chatter
• Inappropriately demanding & clingy
• Abnormal speech patterns
• Triangulation of adults
• False allegations of abuse
• Presumptive entitlement issues
• Parents appear hostile and angry

Any of the following conditions occurring to a child during the first 36 months of life puts them at risk:

• Unwanted pregnancy
• Pre-birth exposure to trauma, drugs or alcohol
• Abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
• Neglect (not answering the baby’s cries for help)
• Separation from primary caregiver (i.e. Illness or death of mother or severe illness or hospitalization of the baby, or adoption
• On-going pain such as colic, hernia or many ear infections
• Changing day cares or using providers who don’t do bonding
• Moms with chronic depression
• Several moves or placements (foster care, failed adoptions)
• Caring for baby on a timed schedule or other self-centered parenting

Tuesday night I came home from a two day symposium to a backlog of laundry and a washer that wasn’t spinning.  This was the third washer since we moved into our house around six years ago, two used and one new, so we were both ready to quit messing around and go for a good one.  We went to Home Depot and talked to Ron, who I recommend, about the front loader washers and dryers.  Within fifteen minutes we had  a set ordered and scheduled for delivery on Saturday.  The newest members of our household were delivered Saturday around 4:30pm and Sunday morning I had our laundry caught up.  I have to interject here that I did do 10 large loads at the laundromat but still this was a full load of each variation; towels, a set of bedding, socks/pillow, two darks, one really full lights, etc….  I could really rave on and on about the features like the delay start that can wash a load right before I get up in the morning and go freshly washed into the dryer, or the pleasant chimes instead of the awful, annoying buzzing, the lower water and detergent usage, consistent cleaning/spinning out excess water/complete drying before stopping.  Okay I am stopping now, suffice it to say that I recommend getting the best appliances your money will buy.  I told my son that the Proverbs 31 wife had servants and we have appliances!

She rises also while it is yet night, gives food to her household, and portions for her servant girls. World English Bible

March 2010
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