Folklore and fairytales have placed the heart at the center of human love and emotion. We feel love in our chest … sometimes it makes our hearts pound faster. Other times we feel butterflies in our stomach when love happens. Yet science has revealed a new center of the human capacity to love and be loved: The Brain!
The name for the Super Power that allows children to love and be loved is Attachment. The process of Attachment is what allows humans to have compassion for others, to feel loved, and to feel love for others. The ability to be in relationships, be a good citizen, and function in family and society all depend on the tiny baby’s development of Human Attachment!
An interruption of Attachment Formation can occur for many reasons. Trauma and abuse can interfere with proper Attachment formation and development. Medical conditions that keep parents and babies apart for long periods of time can interfere with Attachment. Medical or other problems right at the moment of birth that interfere with that initial parent-child bonding can contribute to serious Attachment Disorder.
Sensitive parenting is one of the most powerful forces that help develop a child’s Attachment capacity. Even loving parents who are ill, working long hours, or unable to provide sensitive care due to family emergencies can face serious challenges with Attachment development. Adoption and Foster Care can also prove challenging for young children who may not recover fully from the early loss of parents and caregivers.
Children are born with undeveloped brains that must grow and specialize in response to the environment. The type of stimulation from parents and caregivers causes the infant brain to develop new neural cells in the brain. A child’s ability to be social with other humans will develop over the period of early childhood. So a child with a poor emotional environment may develop brain structures that are not efficient for processing emotions like love, compassion, and human connection.
The result of serious challenges in Attachment Development is Attachment Disorder, which can express as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or even Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED). The Orchard Human Services, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and families overcome the devastation of Attachment Disorders – whether RAD, DSED, or some other type. Visit the Orchard or read more at DarleenClaire.com to find out what to do if you suspect that your child’s capacity for Attachment has somehow been compromised.