A Disorganized Attachment style results when caregivers present double-binding messages to children. This is sometimes called “paradoxical injunction.” An example of this is a, “Come here, go away. Come here, go away.” message. Parents create situations for the child that are unsolvable and un-win-able. For example a parent may ask a child to do a task such as sweep the floor. When the child begins to do so the parent criticizes how it is being done, or even when it is being done. The child may attempt to do the task again taking the direction but is criticized again. The parent may then deride the child for not doing what the parent has asked them to do and punish them for not doing the job.

When exposed to these impossible-to-resolve situations over and over again the child develops a pattern of not solving problems. When parents set up these interactions that are frightening, disorienting, inherently disorganizing, and which sometimes involve violence, the parents become the source of fear. The disorganized pattern arises in the child when there is a desire to be close to the parent as an object of safety conflicting with a drive to detach from a dangerous and confusing caregiver. For the Adult this may mean being held emotionally hostage by the conflict of the desire for intimacy and was well as the fear of it.

Characteristics of Disorganized Attachment

Children with a disorganized-insecure attachment style show a lack of clear attachment behavior. Their actions and responses to caregivers are often a mix of behaviors, including avoidance or resistance. These children are described as displaying dazed behavior, sometimes seeming either confused or apprehensive in the presence of a caregiver.

Main and Solomon (1986) proposed that inconsistent behavior on the part of parents might be a contributing factor in this style of attachment. In later research, Main and Hesse (1990) argued that parents who act as figures of both fear and reassurance to a child contribute to a disorganized attachment style. Because the child feels both comforted and frightened by the parent, confusion results.

 

AT AGE 1

1) Show a mixture of avoidant and resistant behaviors.

2) May seem dazed, confused, or apprehensive.

AT AGE 6

1) May take on parental role

2) Some children act as a caregiver toward the parent.

 

Significant Indication: Somebody who grew up with parents with a disorganized attachment style, may develop a fearful avoidant adult attachment pattern, they will view others negatively and view self negatively.