Child: Anxious Avoidant attachment.
Adult: Dismissive Attachment
As infants and young children, they usually grew up in environments where their parents were not able to provide them with consistent and reliable emotional support, although their functional needs were met (ex. food, lothing, educational opportunities...). They grew up in an emotional void. They learned how to shut down thier needs for care and comfort by focusing on play and exploration (ex. sports, school, music, working...) because it was too distressing to keep reaching out and not receive the love and support they needed. They were praised for their competence.
As adults they cope with distress by fending for themselves, focusing on achievement, shutting off dependency needs and just carrying on. They tend to be loners, regarding relationships and emotions as being relatively unimportant. Their typical response to interpersonal conflict and stressful situations is to avoid them by distancing themselves (or organizing them). They have a difficult time with letting people in; they do not trust that others will really be there for them when they need them. It is comforting/ soothing for them to be by themselves. Their lives are not balanced: they are inward and isolated, and emotionally removed from themselves and others.
They desire a high level of independence, which often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to the feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships and seek less intimacy. They deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection.
Obviously this means I have serious difficulties in my relationship with my RAD kids who reject me constantly!
People with a dismissive style select relationships and lifestyles that prioritize work, achievement and intellect over intimacy. Relationships with friends, parents, spouse and children are important to them, but family and friends may complain they don't feel that important to dismissing individuals. This is because dismissing individuals value thier individual strengths and abilities to solve problems over emotional connections in relationships. They are often highly successful because they can focus on problem solving and disregard the emotional aspects of the situation.
On the whole they seem to be strong, confident, capable people who have very little emotional distress. Negative emotions are considered private and sometimes seen as unimportant or unnecessary, or as interfering with the problem-solving process. As a result, these emotions are often pushed aside and the individual is no longer aware of them fully. This creates a dilemma about becoming more connected emotionally to themselves and other people: to do so, they may have to first deal with their own underlying feelings of insecurity, rejection, unworthiness, sadness and anxiety before they can be available to themselves and others.
This is the diagnosis I received after I was tested during Bear's recent intense neuropsych eval. It does not come from dealing with my children's issues (although that has aggravated it); it comes from my childhood. I believe this diagnosis probably describes my father, and while my mom is an amazing woman, her bipolar disorder was not diagnosed and treated until I was in high school.
I always knew I had attachment issues. This diagnosis surprised me though. I just assumed my attachment problem was more about trust issues, particularly with men. When we were dating, Hubby put up with a lot, and just wouldn't go away no matter how hard I tried to push him away. Turns out he has a combination of Dismissive and Secure Attachment.
One reason I felt comfortable adopting teens, was I assumed Hubby would be able to hang in there like he did with me, and that I would have empathy and be able to emulate what Hubby did to help me.
I do have lots of empathy for the kids. This attachment issue does help me to approach discipline less emotionally. It is NOT helping me deal with Bear's attachment issues though. Instead I'm struggling to try to force myself to continue to connect with him. Most of the time, I just want to walk away from him. In the letter written to me by the person that did Bear's neuropsych eval. She stated I was an excellent case manager for Bear, but I need to work on the emotional connection. We're still filling out a daily questionnaire, and one of the questions is, "How close to Bear did you feel today?" Every single day it feels wrong to answer, "Not at all" so sometimes I answer "Slightly" even though it's rarely true. I can't wait until we're done with this assessment.