Secure Attachment Is a Privilege by Rebecca Donaldson

Having an internal working model of secure attachment from childhood is a privilege.

Yes, it’s a privilege. 

It’s a privilege to not carry this hole.

It’s a privilege to feel you truly know who you are.

It’s a privilege to feel loved by your parents.

It’s a privilege to have a mother you cherish on Mother’s Day. 

It’s a privilege to be an adult and have a parent to call when you need.

It’s a privilege to not be aware of the secure internal working model of attachment in your mind because you’ve never not had it.

I write this to make a point.

Maybe you have a friend who seems to be hurting a lot.

Maybe their childhood wasn’t great.

Maybe they suffered complex trauma.

Maybe they are suicidal.

Maybe they always seem in crisis and appear “needy.”

Maybe this person is you. 

Maybe it’s a client of yours.

Maybe it’s a friend.

Maybe it’s someone in your class, someone in a movie, or someone you’ve read a book about.

My point is— we all know someone like this person.

There are many of these people— the ones who struggle to smile, to feel safe, and to keep going on with their life with a model of insecure attachment.

These people aren’t manipulative when they ask for help.

They aren’t trying to bother anyone.

They are deeply hurting.

You see, you may not notice it in your body, but those who never formed a secure attachment in their early years of life often have a yearning so deeply for it, that as adults, they feel ill in their search for love.

These people aren’t bad.

They aren’t people to control or to fix.

They aren’t less than or a problem.

They just weren’t privileged to have had a secure attachment. 

Yes, it is a privilege. 

If you know somebody like who I am describing, be gentle with them.

Maybe help them find a therapist who focuses on attachment trauma.

Do your best to pick them up and set them down gently if you need space.

Maybe they come across as clingy.

Maybe they frustrate you sometimes.

They likely do.

Remember though, it’s a privilege to not feel this pain.

It’s a privilege to not understand what they feel.

It’s a privilege to be able to judge their behavior as “abnormal.”

It’s a privilege to not understand their lived experiences.


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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