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Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind?and Keep?Love Hardcover – December 30, 2010
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Is there a science to love?
In this groundbreaking book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many bestselling books on the parent/child relationship, but there has yet to be an accessible guide to what this fascinating science has to tell us about adult romantic relationships-until now.
Attachment theory owes its inception to British psychologist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, who in the 1950s examined the tremendous impact that our early relationships with our parents or caregivers has on the people we become. Also central to attachment theory is the discovery that our need to be in a close relationship with one or more individuals is embedded in our genes.
In Attached, Levine and Heller trace how these evolutionary influences continue to shape who we are in our relationships today. According to attachment theory, every person behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:
*ANXIOUS people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back.
*AVOIDANT people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
*SECURE people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mates) follow. It also offers readers a wealth of advice on how to navigate their relationships more wisely given their attachment style and that of their partner. An insightful look at the science behind love, Attached offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections.
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I've always considered myself, like most people probably do, to be a complicated, layered individual...unable to boxed in or defined by a particular group or belief system!....then I read this book. Never before had I stumbled upon a psychological model that better described my actions, both in and out of the relationship context. With this new found knowledge I was able to objectively identify, understand and eventually begin to correct certain destructive emotional and psychological patterns within the relationship context. That ability has been incredibly important in my most recent relationship...something that I probably would have stepped away from had I not read this book and understood my avoidant attachment style.
The reason I gave this four stars is because the book was so focused on individuals that were NOT in a relationship. My relationship is the classic avoidant & anxious combination. Yet we decided to leverage this new found knowledge to do the hard work necessary for us to achieve a secure / secure relationship! I do believe this is possible, though hard work, and I have seen results first hand in my relationship that support that theory. However, I would have loved to seen a greater portion of this book dedicated to exercises and tools that couples could use who are in the very situation that this book is encouraging you and teaching you to avoid when possible.
Was I wrong.
And I hate to be wrong. Thanks, Dr. D.
General Information: This book is an easy read. It's not that stuff you need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out - in layman terms it briefs you on the broader different styles of attachment: secure, anxious and avoidant. The book helps you determine what kind of attachment styles you have via reading examples of others attachment styles and there are also some quizzes if you're still not sure, all of which I found useful. I really liked that the authors presented examples of scenarios of attachment styles and encouraged the reader to read through the scenarios and guess the kind of attachment styles that were presented based on the knowledge we had already been given in the earlier part of the book. I find that a helpful way to learn.
Given that I was not into reading this in the first place - the fact that it was light reading, interesting and at times fun - made me very attuned to what this book had to say. I agree it wasn't super in-depth but I don't fault this book for that because if it was super in depth I would have not even read it. My psychiatrist knows what the heck she is talking about and she choose this book for a reason - so I have zero complaints. I think she was even impressed with how much I was able to take away after reading it in one day.
This book taught me a lot about myself. With women, I have anxious attachments - stemming from an unpredictable childhood. I pretty much tend to gravitate toward any one who acts maternal with me and cling to her. This isn't necessarily about romantic attachment for me, it spelled out a lot of patterns with all the people I have in my life: from friends, family members, partners and even my doctors.
I had started to notice that I was feeling unsettled in my relationship with my fiance. I was getting annoyed at everything he did. Little things, like the way he chewed. I would get annoyed when he would text me and completely ignore him for hours at a time. Until I read this book, I didn't realize the problem was me and that with men I have a very avoidant attachment style. I was able to take the criticism to heart without feeling persecuted because the book doesn't make you feel that way even though avoidants can come off as very very harsh and cruel and indifferent.
I'm now able to communicate more effectively, recognize my own patterns of behavior, identify that I am responsible for my own actions and feelings and now I feel a real sense of control and independence because I have that knowledge. I have that security. I can reciprocate with my fiance now and not be so dismissive of him and I'm able to be a bit more open without feeling that he's trying to stop me from being my own person or that he's suffocating me.
I highly recommend this book. If you want to delve super deep into this attachment thing - some other reviewers mentioned additions and alternatives but I wouldn't. I am a very learned person, a very intelligent person and I didn't need anything more in depth than this book to help me to start to recognize patterns that needed to change. I think this book is best served to people who can admit where they are on the attachment continuum. I happen to be at a place in my life now, thanks to my psychiatrist and therapist, where I am able to let my guard down a bit and accept things that are difficult for me to accept.. Maybe even just six months ago I wouldn't have been ready to admit this. But given my ability to be ready and my desire to make things right in my life now that I have a child - I didn't need a guide book to tell me how to figure out the things I needed to do to fix the areas that needed work in my life regarding my attachment styles.
I disagree with the reviews that claim this book doesn't offer us any insight as to why we are the way we are and what we can do about it. Several times this book mentions the theories of infant and other kinds of attachments but does say that it's not the purpose of this book to delve into that. That's good enough for me. I was able to discern from the minimal but powerful examples they give of the attachment styles of infants to their caregivers to know why I am the way I am and I wrote a whole essay about it to share with my psychiatrist.... thanks to this book.
As for what we can do about it - this was also something I didn't need a road map for. This is going to sound pretty darn simplistic but maybe that's just because it is. Kind of just do the opposite of what you're doing....???? That is how this has been working for me, anyway. But of course, I relied on the examples in the book to help direct my behavior without needing a "HOW TO" direction stamped across the page. You rely on your intuition. You rely on your knowledge. You rely on your empathy and most of all you rely on your willingness to enact change.
The examples in this book were definitely not apples to apples with how I am with my fiance - but it was enough of an eye-opening experience for me to say to myself: "Oh geez..... I do things like this all the time and this is how my fiance must feel. He's just reacting to my avoidance. If I start to try to be less avoidant and give him a little bit more security by acknowledging him maybe he won't feel so frustrated or taken advantage of or hurt."
And that's what I started to do. I started to recognize the behaviors I have that are avoidant and started to replace them with more healthy behaviors. At first this wasn't easy. I felt like I was losing a part of myself by giving in to him but then I realized that's silly and I went back to the book for guidance and reassurance and that's when I decided to feel more secure and in control. I'm far more independent by making the right, healthy choices for our relationship than I am being a slave to my fear of dependency. I really feel empowered by this and I thank the authors for putting this out there in a way that isn't complicated but that is so very helpful.