Med Connect Pro

Discover cutting-edge medical solutions

What Is Childhood Attachment Trauma?

When people think of trauma, they may imagine war, illness, grief, or physical injury. However, the experience of emotional abuse and neglect is also traumatic, as it interferes with the formation of a healthy attachment with caregivers. This is known as childhood attachment trauma. People who have unhealed attachment trauma experience difficulty trusting others, forming relationships, and managing their emotions in adulthood.

The most common causes of childhood attachment trauma include parental neglect, child abuse, and domestic violence. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which followed the health of 17,000 middle-class Americans over their lifetime, found that people with more ACEs are more likely to have physical and mental illnesses in later life than those with fewer ACEs. This is largely because the brain is shaped by early experiences and the impact of those experiences continues to have an effect throughout our lives.

What Is an Insecure Attachment?

The primary role of a parent or caregiver is to help form and maintain a strong attachment bond with their children. If there is a disturbance in this process, it can lead to childhood attachment trauma. This trauma can be as obvious as physical or emotional abuse, but it can also be less apparent, such as when a caregiver is distracted while working or is emotionally unavailable due to illness or depression.

In these cases, the child is unable to develop a healthy attachment with their caregiver, and may instead develop an insecure or disorganized attachment style. They may also come to believe that they cannot rely on anyone, leading them to avoid intimacy in adulthood and a lack of self-esteem.

A more secure attachment style can develop if the parent is consistently available and loving to their child, regardless of the circumstances. This can also be seen in the case of parents who are caring for a sick child or infant. However, even if the parent is attentive and loving, a rupture can still occur if they are negligent or forget to tuck the child in at night, for example.

People who have unexplained physical ailments, such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, or back pain, may have experienced childhood attachment trauma. Existing research correlates these symptoms with an insecure or disorganized attachment style.

The good news is that it’s never too late to heal from childhood trauma. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem and seek a therapist who specializes in trauma treatment. You can find a therapist in your area through our Therapy Today directory. You can also take our free online assessment and be matched with a therapist who is right for you. You can get the support you need for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Scroll to Top