Adult Attachment Disorder

General Theory of Love: How Mammal Brains Work, Part 1
...General Theory of Love: How Mammal Brains Work, Part2
General Theory of Love: Mammals Require Attachment

Dr. Allan Schore: What is the “Self”?
How Your Brain Works 101 – Dr. Bruce Perry
Attachment & Developmental Trauma – Dr. Bruce Perry

Mary Main’s Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)
Bruce Perry in Washington: On Relationship
..The Hole in Me
From the Butt End of Evolution: My Family Tree

Note I’m against false use of the terms “attachment disorder” or “attachment therapy” to excuse abuse of clients, as exposed here:  But it’s also a problem that the psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) only recognizes Radical Attachment Disorder (RAD).  RAD only affects a tiny percent of the population.

But I believe other legitimate forms of attachment disorder affect 50% of Americans. I wasn’t RAD, but I had a bad case of legitimate attachment disorder. Since I wasn’t RAD, the DSM didn’t recognize my illness, so I got no treatment until I collapsed after age 50. That can’t be right.  “Attachment problems extending beyond RAD, are a real and appropriate concern for professionals,” concludes the 2006 Report on Attachment Therapy by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) which convened to study this problem.

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13 responses to “Adult Attachment Disorder

  1. I am sooo grateful to find this page. I, like all of you, have been struggling for years. In and out of therapy with limited results, but this just fits! I am 60+ but perhaps I can find/plot a course to finally achieve some healing! I live in Virginia and the health care is marginal, at best, but today I have a wee bit of hope and an idea of where to begin. Thank you, all, for the information and the gift of hope. If anyone comes across any relative help or information for this area, I would be eternally grateful for the assistance. May we all find some kindness, joy, peace and laughter every day.

  2. Hi Kathy,

    I’m a student researching on attachment, and have found your blog to be an amazing source of insight and knowledge. What resources and reading would you recommend?
    All the best 🙂

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I saw what you wrote to Ja, above, about moving here for a couple of years to go to your therapists here in CA. I’m in the LA area and am wondering if you could put me in touch with them. I have been struggling with severe MDD my entire life, take a handful of pills every day to stay alive, and tried everything short of ECT and vagal implant. I’ve spent thousands on Dr. Amen, and all the brain scans. The extremely expensive TMS failed to work after 12 weeks a year ago, and my neuro doc said I should try ECT, but I can’t go there, yet. As far as I know and can remember, I did not suffer from a known separation or trauma during infancy or childhood. (Raised by biological parents w/stay at home mom who had/has no psych issues, first sibling at age 2 def changed my world, but other than that, nothing.) UCLA’s best can’t figure me out.
    Thank you for your help.

  4. What would you recommend to the Spouse of an adult RAD? I’ve recently found the description of RAD and I suspect my husband struggles with it, although he doesn’t think anything is wrong, of course. There was a lot of disassociation and trauma in his childhood, and his whole family is very ‘hands-off’, so he doesn’t connect with people, nor display empathy or compassion for others, except for me. We connected in our teens, and kind of ‘saved each other’, but now as we are adults I am seeing an unhealthy level of mental/emotional maturity, as if he is depending on me to be his connection with the world. A marriage relationship is hard work, but when I try to say “Hey, let’s sit down and talk, something isn’t right and we need to work on it together”, he either freaks out like I’m going to leave him or else he melts like a puppy begging me to reassure him that everything is fine. We’re committed to each other and I’m not going to leave him, but No, not everything is fine. Where do I go from here?

    • You could be describing my own marriage here – it made me cry to realize I’m not alone in this. I’m not sure if I can cope with him any more but I feel so guilty for leaving. he needs serious and lengthy professional help but refuses it flat out. You can’t “love him out of this”, that much I do know. He won’t change unless he wants to and unless he accepts help. You will only become more miserable unless you decide you can live with his limitations as they are now – they won’t get better. If you can – well done. If you can’t – well, leaving is hard. So very hard because you’re doing the one thing that will hurt them most – detaching from them. I can’t give you the answers. But I do know it’s not your fault and you (alone) can’t fix him.

  5. ….i’ve been looking for this page all my life :)…..

  6. Do you know of treatment centers for Adults w/ Attachment Disorder? I’m willing to travel for much needed help. I’m in Houston but can fly to any location…I’m desperate, in serious pain and lonely. I have alienated every person in my life and not sure why I do it. I was abandoned from 1yr old to 3 yrs w/out any contact, I am 55 and just lost a $150K job because of my trust issues. I am literally spiraling out of control. Before my father died he told me you need to look at attachment disorder, in the 60’s hospitals were unaware leaving me alone was unhealthy. I have sabotaged anything/ everything in my life. It sounds crazy but its whom I have become, running as fast as I can thru life~ Can you help?

    • Hi Ja, I feel your pain and understand your dilemma. I am a 64-year male adoptee that suffered reactive attachment disorder all his life. I too, was abandoned physically and emotionally in the critical years of my childhood development. Sadly, there is no know cure or therapy that will help individuals our age overcome the resulting life-long trauma. I plan to start a local meet-up for adults with reactive attachment disorder born between 1946 and 1969. Hopefully this type of group “talk-therapy” with adoptees that have “walked in our shoes” will provide some comfort and understanding as we approach our twilight years. Look for my Facebook page under Robert A. Forbes Orlando FL

    • Ja, it is not crazy how you feel! We do feel this way because we weren’t given brain cells to feel better by parents who should have been there, but weren’t. We can grow brain cells now.
      Robert, I disagree, there IS healing for adults like us, I’ve done it! I didn’t find out I had this until over 50. You’ve got a great idea for a support group, but there is also therapy for us. When we do get the right help, we can and will heal.
      There must be check-in treatment centers. I’d contact the attachment & developmental trauma specialists below for names of centers and please post the list here for us all!
      I couldn’t afford check-in. What worked for me is a highly-experienced attachment trauma therapist + separately, neurofeedback. That’s two therapists but it works. You might consider moving to California to work for 2-4 years with my 2 therapists. I’ve been at it 7 years and I feel great. You may even find people in Houston or Orlando on my attachment therapist locator page. When you call, be sure they are highly experienced 20 years + in infant trauma: which lists:
      Attachment Therapists for Adults and Children:
      -Bessel van der Kolk, MD
      –Somatic Experiencing, Dr. Peter Levine (enter zip) :
      –Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, Dr. Pat Ogden
      –Nancy Thomas:
      –Sidran Institute:
      –ISTSS: Enter zip and distance range, then under “Advanced Search,” select “Special Interests” and check “Attachment.”
      AND: Find a Neurofeedback Practitioner Online:
      –EEG Spectrum:
      –EEG Information Directory:

      • Hi Kathy, which type of attachment disorder did you have? I’m 40 and longest relationship was 1.5 years. It’s something i need to change. Had lots of biological illnesses that caused anxiety so that didn’t help, mostly sorted that now. Very scarred by bad relationships and rejection… Or perceived rejection that leads to actual rejection! Can’t find anything here in the UK that looks like it can help… Thanks!

        • Hi there. I don’t know anything about this stuff. I am a newbie but it fits with a lot of what I have been told over the years. Bipolar, yes/no; Borderline, yes/no; Major Depression, well that is a definite yes. You get the idea.
          I don’t have anything that I can add like links or suggestions but I can offer my time to listen. I am not a therapist or counselor so I can’t give any advice. But for some of you who are really lonely, unattached, whatever, perhaps we can say hi to each other on this post.

    • I have found the most help in working with a Somatic Experiencing practitioner that knows attachment styles. This process can help move the energy that is stored in the body/mind/psyche from trauma.

      I also experience a lot of pain, loneliness, etc. One way I get safe connections is to go with friends to a place where there is a lot of people, like a park… and we each have Free Hugs signs… we get to hug lots of people and look into their eyes… it fills me up for that day… and then I do it again. And, I don’t have to go home with them, or feel that intense fear of someone leaving, or misunderstanding a desperation for them to stay or understand the depth of emotion that pops up when I am close to someone.

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