We got to speak again with Dr. Peter Barach, who taught us all about attachment.
Attachment theory explains the infant-mother dynamic, emphasizing the importance of a secure and trusting mother-infant in healthy development.
John Bowlby (1907-1990) was a British child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known for his theory on attachment. Key points to Bowlby’s theory include:
Infants are born already biologically wired to be cared for and attach to a primary caregiver;
Bowlby was influenced by Lorenz’s imprinting studies (baby ducks!);
Attachment behaviors are instinctive, which matters to trauma because those early attachment responses can be activated (triggered!) by conditions that threaten closeness or connection: separation, insecurity, and fear;
These innate behaviors are part of the survival instinct process;
The initial attachment experience serves a lens for all future relationships as the infant grows into a child and then into an adult; and
This initial experience provides an “internal working model” that serves as (1) a model of others as being trustworthy, (2) a model of the self as valuable, and (3) a model of the self as effective when interacting with others.
Dr. Barach then also explained the attachment styles identified by Ainsworth, through her strange situation experiment:
This research led Ainsworth to identify attachment styles that could predict behavior and patterns of relationship as the child grew older:
This, Dr. Barach explains, plays out even with adults, like the model of Bartholomew and Horowitz here:
Considering that different insiders may have different attachment styles, Dr. Barach discussed disorganized attachment as it applies to DID.
He also provided the example from the Robertsonresearch film “A Two Year Old Goes to the Hospital”. That link will take you to where you can purchase the entire film, but here are some clips:
Dr. Barach then shared with us a new book, Attachment Disturbances in Adults, by Dr. Daniel P. Brown, whom he heard after listening to the Therapist Uncensored podcast. Dr. Barach stated that Dr. Brown’s theory is about how CPTSD comes from disorganized attachment that is then followed by abuse. We have followed up by contacting Dr. Brown for an interview.
Many thanks to Dr. Barach for visiting with us again!
Dr. Peter Barach attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. He received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve University. He is Clinical Senior Instructor in Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. Since 1984, he has been in private practice in the Cleveland area with Horizons Counseling Services. His clinical approach is relational and supportive. He specializes in working with people with dissociative disorders and adult survivors of trauma. He also works with depression and anxiety. He is also trained in EMDR and clinical hypnosis.
Dr. Barach is the author of scientific and clinical articles on dissociation and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). He is a past president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Within the dissociative disorders field, he is known for having first highlighted the link between disordered attachment and the origins of DID. He also chaired the committee that produced the first set of treatment guidelines for adults with DID in 1993 and has participated in revisions of the guidelines. In addition to his writings on dissociation, Dr. Barach served as a script consultant for broadcast media and as a reviewer for several journals. He has also served as an expert witness in civil and criminal matters.
In addition to maintaining a private practice, Dr. Barach currently works for the Cleveland VA Medical Center, where he evaluates veterans who have applied for disability compensation. He is not appearing on this podcast as a VA employee. The opinions he expresses are his own and do not necessarily represent the Department of Veterans Affairs or its policies.
You can read his article Multiple Personality as an Attachment Disorder (Barach, 1991) HERE.