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Can anyone help with questions re: attachment disorder?(40 Posts)
Talking about myself. Aged 50 and realised this is my problem. Since I have no family, partner or friends - I'm not sure how to proceed. Add to the mix rape, torture and attempted murder (towards me, not by me!) it all seems too much of a mess to resolve.
Previous counselling hasn't really got me very far so any bright ideas gratefully received.
What questions do you have? I work with children with attachment disorder and have had training in programmes like Thrive but not specifically adult. I have an understanding of the neuroscience behind it though so will try to answer anything you need answering.
Any book by Daniel Hughes is good, it's advice for parents with attachment disorder but gives a lot of insight in a very readable way. Connected Kids by Karyn Purvis is also good. I'm sorry you're dealing with this, but all information is good in helping you understand. I've known a few adults who read around the subject and then went to a therapist armed with what they felt their key issues were and a clearer idea of what help they wanted with them.
Thanks for the reply.
1. After 50 years living a solitary life; could I actually 'kick it'? Since people aren't my bag but I also feel miserable and lonely, I'm not sure I even know what I want
2. The other bad experiences have never been countered by any especially good experiences. How would I counter the effects?
I think 'people are shit' with good reason in my mind.
3. Previous counselling experience gave me the impression my situation wasn't entirely believed. I sensed the assumption 'everyone has someone'. ( I have had partners in the past but I sadly conclude I'm an abusive partner so now remain single. Friends less so which loaded 'everything' on to the partner.) Am I entirely wrong?
Think that's quite enough for the moment and thanks again.
rumbling thanks for the recommendations. I will take a look.
I have looked on the net and only found stuff about attachment disorder in kids. As the message I get is "don't grow up to be like me", it just makes me feel like more an incurable freak.
But I'm being defeatist so will kick myself up the arse roundly
Counselling has its limitations.
It sounds to me like psychotherapy might be more effective in your case.
Thanks high. I've asked my GP for just that but it seems the wait is very long around here. Paying for private isn't an option for anything more than a very few sessions - and I'm not sure 3 or 4 would be enough.
But my time with the NHS will come eventually I hope.
I can't answer number 1 unfortunately. How would you counter the effects is an interesting one - it's thought that to develop emotions properly, it requires positive experiences to be reinforced. If those positive experiences weren't there and those neuron pathways never developed, it takes longer and more positive experiences to build those pathways and emotions. The problem is, the older you get, at the first sign of failure you write yourself off - I'll never be able to do this, I don't have the skills, I'm too damaged etc.. The struggle is to persist in building these relationships through consistentency - a friend type of relationship would be good for this but don't get over invested which of course is easier to say than do. Perhaps that could even be through a diary? Record feelings every day. With children with attachment, we find the reptilian brain is more developed because of trauma so they react instantly - fight or flight - it's our job to make them think and process the situation before they react. If you can work on that - analysing your own reactions to situations - that might be a good start. Hope some of that helps. Sorry to hear about your past but you can overcome it
Interesting you mention fight or flight. I have life long eczema which has been diagnosed as caused by my permanent state of flight response. Not that it garnered any more of a medical response than 'get some aqueous cream'...
Diary - I don't find it easy to write things down. Even this perfectly friendly chat make me feel like the oldest whinest emo in town.
I think I have the self-awareness to consider my reactions and do. I have no idea beyond that though. Human interaction is a mystery! I agree a friend would be a good idea but lack the skills. I've trained myself to have a cheery front for work which does give me some optimism. The front is shallow though. "How was your weekend? Ooh sounds good!" People like to talk about themselves is the only human trait I think I understand.
I genuinely have no idea why people like to be with people... but I'm lonely which makes no sense! The reason I've had partners and not friends is sex. Sex - to me - is the only form of affection. But the relationship part was terrible of course. I've never been violent but was abusive in a volatile shouty way as I was way way outside my comfort zone. (No surprise most of my partners had other men.)
Jeez I'm sorry to have typed all that when all I should have said is thank you.
y0rkier - Thank you.
It presents the same in children - they're unlikely to tell you what is wrong - they feel it's because they're inadequate and you're feeling it's because talking about is against the social norm probably. How about talking into a voice recorder on your phone? That way you're practising so normalising verbalising emotions and not having to write it down. If you're on edge, you won't enjoy social interaction. I would suggest trying to have some time that is yours alone to do whatever you enjoy doing - even just having some headspace watching a crap series on Netflix - and see it as your space, that way it's not that you're alone by default - you're choosing to have time to yourself to enable you to regulate your emotions. It might even be to go to a coffee shop and sit and read. Then the time that's not your time to work on you, concentrate on social aspects. Could you join a running/sports club or volunteer somewhere? A place with a shared interest enables you to get to know people without the pressure of a friendship - you're there because you have a mutual interest. Don't apologise, you're free to say what you need to here
these are all roads i've been down except the sport. i'm 50 with some quite bad work injuries - i have metal in me - so not the most mobile.
I tried college on a mature student course. shared interest - yes. any progress - no. time that is mine alone - i have to much of that and tend to self medicate.
i don't mean to sound pissy but i've worked hard on my mental state all my life - i have a job and 'function' ok. i always thought i'd end up being able to get along with people in a reasonable fashion at some point but not yet. this is why i now wonder about the realistic possibility of improvement at quite a late age.
as i said above, that Att. Dis appears to be almost entirely seen as a child issue concerns me
How are you defining 'get along with people?'
And being volatile and shouty can be normal and non-damaging in some relationships (rather depends how volatile though - if you feel out of control that's not so great).
I hope you can access psychotherapy soon - I agree that might really help.
As I said, my own experience is with children so that's my expertise, I just wanted to help if I could. It sounds like you do have normal functioning day to day relationships with people but no relationships with meaning. I honestly can't give you the answer to that, perhaps as PP suggests psycotherapy could help.
I've always found animals much nicer than people, they don't judge, and if you treat them with kindness and respect they do the same back. My closest friends have always been animals from early childhood, (other than my DH) and he's much the same. We don't really do people as friends that well.
I don't have any knowledge of attachment disorder, but psychotherapy sounds a good plan. Something I've personally found life changing and has really helped me understand myself and other people has been learning about nlp ( neurolinguistic programming ) I would highly reccommend it to anyone wanting to understand how people think including themselves.
Recovery is the best revenge by Caroline Spring its on Amazon
Hi op, please have a look at a website by a charity called PODS
is a project run by START(Survivors Trauma and Abuse Recovery Trust),
They run a helpline and train therapists, the woman who runs it in conjunction with her Husband
Suffered horrendous sexual abuse as a child, the book is her journey to recovery and at helps out there
If you Google PODS It will bring the site up with all the details, you are not alone 💐
With long term psychotherapy there absolutely is hope of change. But it really is likely to be a long term process and would require a massive commitment from you, not just in time but also in being willing to face up to painful feelings and to start to take risks by getting closer to people when you start to feel safer. But meanwhile you will also start to build up better boundaries so you automatically feel safer. Your past experiences will definitely have made you feel, even unconsciously, that people will always transgress your boundaries. This is something that can change. It might be worth looking locally to see if any therapists offer low cost counselling - many offer a few such places. Also, you may find some personal development courses to be a good starting point. Local colleges do courses on counselling skills, self esteem etc that might be a way to dip your toe in the water. You may also find group therapy or mindfulness groups. Anything that gets you involved with people who are also interested in personal growth but who may understand your concerns a bit better than the average population. There's tons of stuff on you tube that might also be of interest about attachment theory. Some may resonate with you.
Also, once you do find a psychotherapist, make sure they are right for you, if you don't feel safe with them or that you can work with them, it is absolutely right to seek out someone you feel more comfortable with. Good luck OP.
Thank you for all the replies. I'll try to cover them in one hit if that's OK.
Getting along with people - I have not left the flat all day as there are people out there. I don't want to be near them. Tomorrow I will go to work because without an income everything would be a lot worse. In the absence of a support network/family, I've been on the streets before and have no wish to return. That's my motivation regarding my job. I adopt a cheery front for work which doesn't seems to win me friends but doesn't seem to piss people off. I use the same front to deal with shop staff. That's the extent of my functioning relationship with people and it's draining.
I was an uncontrolled shouty angry partner - anything and nothing would set me off. Also blew hot and cold to the point of rejection. I ground down some very good women. To my shame I didn't realise until 5 years ago. I didn't blame them nor did I think I was so terrible. It all just 'was'. I'm very ashamed that I shit on such good people. My epiphany came from my last relationship with a woman who was similar to me in volatility. FWIW I'm quite happy to stay single now.
Pets - I am a big animal lover. I know all the cats in my street. But I live in a tower block and have a job with unusual working practices. It's not unknown to finish 24 hours later than scheduled so hard to maintain a fair care routine for a pet. Frankly I don't trust myself to provide good care anyway.
Therapy - I have had what I believed to be psychotherapy at my own expense on 3 occasions. All 3 ended with leaving with much shouting and a 'fuck you'. The reason was the same in all cases. I was abused in various ways over 20 years. Some by men and some by women. The male abuse seemed to accepted as 'a bad thing' but the female abuse always provoked suggestions of guilt that I enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy the (removed details) so hugely resented the difference of tone. Have also felt some incredulity too which caused resentment.
I agree further therapy is the way forward but worry I will have a belligerent attitude from the off. That said, I have sent my details to PODS find-a-therapist.
In the shittiest mood as you might guess but it's not my intention to be snarky or dismissive. I genuinely appreciate the time and effort people have taken to reply.
I'll add - the thing that eats me the most is an obsession about answers. Why did my parents hate having anything to do with me? Why did so many people behave so horribly?
I know I can't get these answers but I still obsess on a daily basis.
On the website, they have a phone number manned by a trained therapist, they will help if you call, I have trained with them, they are brilliant.
Secondly all there therapist training days are also attended by survivors of trauma, so not only do you get support you learn how and why you feel as you do.
Please have a look at the book of you can, I think a lot of it will strike a cord with you.
When we know there are no answers to be found on the outside, we start looking internally and if we don't like what we see of ourself, It is easy to assume that we are the reason for the abuse, we are to blame.
Please hold fast to one thought if you can tonight, you are not a freak not did you deserve anything that happened to you.
All of your responses both mentally and physically are all the result of trauma, your body and mind know of no other way to react, your stuck in fight or flight mode.
The good news is, that you don't have to be stuck like that, you can work towards recovery, but you do have to find the right person with the right qualification to help. PODS can point you in the right direction and set you on your journey, all is not lost.
You are worth loving and deserve love 💐
Parole - are you sure you want to find friendships or do you want to come to terms with not having them? The thing is people (& I say this as someone who enjoys being around people - and am comfortable alone) - people are always disappointing in some way. I'm not a therapist but reading your posts it strikes me that you may not realise that friendships -even very good ones - are always flawed in some way. So in order to maintain friendships you have to be able to forgive people when they screw up and forgive yourself when you do.
I agree about the necessity of a good therapist - and the right one for you. It may be worth reading up on the different schools of psychotherapy as well as they can be very different in their approach.
Also have you tried making friends online or do you find that as exhausting? I was forced to be more isolated than I would have chosen by circumstances for a number of years but in that time made a number of online friendships & have since met quite a few of them in real life. Some have become very good friends - all are very real and genuine friendships. Online friendships can be intense but are also easier to take time out without offending anyone when it becomes overwhelming.
Hi OP there is a US therapist and trainer called Diane Poole-Heller who specialises in attachment issues in adults. Im not sure if there's a lot she's written, but I've seen some of her trainings and she's clearly invested a lot of time and effort in this area.
Some people call it developmental trauma too, so you may find info by searching under that.
This is more for your own reading rather than help finding someone to talk to.
I'm really sorry to hear that you've felt disbelieved about your experiences and how you felt/feel about them. That's pretty awful. If you find a therapist who you feel comfortable with I would let them know about this early on.
I've been following your thread with interest because the experiences you describe are very familiar to me. have a milder version - not as extreme abuse, neglect, etc. It is painful to read your post as it feels like I am looking in the mirror.
I am having long term psychotherapy. This happened kind of by mistake after couples counselling. I wanted to give you hope, that it does work for this (I call it complex PTSD but think they are the same thing). I am an angry, shouty loner... My therapist helped me identify why and has helped with supporting me.
The thing is to find a therapist you trust. I hear you about the expense, etc. and hope you can sort that soon. Could you save up, or ask for reduced rates but on the condition you will see them long term?
I can't emphasise enough how helpful it is to have someone there to just stick up for my side of the story every week.
You have put words to some of my experiences, too. I find it hard to articulate emotions and 'scripts' that others find normal. I found that doing a course on counselling (as a student) helped me, also to meet some new people without necessarily forming deep and meaningful links with them. We were all in the room for similar reasons - although this was never expressed - and we didn't have to get too close to each other, emotionally. Does your local university/college run evening classes? It's a great way of getting out. It keeping your distance from others, as you all concentrate on the information more than on each other. Or I make myself attend lectures and concerts. I have one or two friends to pair up with for just this purposes, and my therapist helped me to identify a clutch of 'safe' people to email when I feel in despair. These are superficial friendships but the place little demand on me, emotionally, yet they make me feel good when I'm at rock bottom. It can just be a one liner about current affairs, or jokes, I don't tell them I am suicidal, necessarily.
There is hope. You are doing well already. I am a parent and have had a pet. It has been a big struggle. I am learning to acccept this history but it also means creating a new future and, like you, it means going alone. But it is ok.
Thinking of you. Hope you get some answers.
I think my attachment style is different from yours, (mine was more towards anxious preoccupied and it sounds like yours is more like dismissive avoidant), but I read a few books about attachment styles and it really helped me understand the patterns I was repeating.
If there was one thing that helped re-calibrate me more than anything else it was dating a man ten years older than I am who was the kindest, most attentive, most generous bf I ever had. I always knew it wasn't forever though due to the age gap. But it got me used to being treated WELL. It raised my bar in a conscious experience kind of way, not just reading about it kind of way. Of course I did feel a bit stifled by it at times. I never felt anxious or preoccupied with him, so that was good but I confuse anxious / preoccupied with butterflies so I never really felt it.......
Btw, I have had psychotherapy, my abusive x tried to kill me... I have not been abusive in a relationship but I have on occasion lost it with my daughter because she won't give me space. I might have spent all day with her and I need ten minutes alone and she follows me in to my room and I shout at her to get rid of her. I'm giving her an attachment disorder too. Because although I'm a good mother 90% of the time on occasion I need solitude and she won't give it to me and so I can't cope.
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