Attachment & Relational Disorders

Relational Disorders

Secure attachment comes to be through an experience of being seen, of being valued, having had one’s needs attended to, given limits and explained boundaries, made to feel safe so that the person learns to trust, and been given the space and support to make one’s experiences of the world thus developing agency.

The securely attached individual is confident, empathic, able to take one’s flaws and work through them, is not threatened with being vulnerable and asking for help, is open to learning, is resilient and can relate with others satisfactorily. The opposite of this is the insecurely attached, or anxiously attached person.

Nurture gives us tools and experiences and when such tools are the wrong ones, or they are not good enough, we are not very well equipped to form and maintain relationships that bring us both satisfaction and also challenges. Because we have to defend ourselves from others when we are insecure, we have difficulties relating and at times such difficulties are so entrenched in our personality that we have a personality disorder.

Such disorders can include: borderline personality, narcissistic personality, paranoid personality, an anti-social personality, schizoid personality, dependent personality and so on. Sometimes one may not have a personality disorder but traits of it. Sometimes it could be general relational difficulties such as difficulties to commit, co-dependency, anger management, difficulties setting boundaries, difficulties asking for one’s needs to be met.

Psychotherapy can help with self-understanding and learning to manage better when relating to others. It can help the person with difficulties understand how they may be affecting others. Psychotherapy can also help those who live with someone who has relational disorders.

Signs of a relational disorder include:

  • Ongoing patterns of behaviour that cause hurt feelings
  • A decline in quality of life due to ongoing conflict
  • Causes health problems to develop for one or both people
  • An inability to break destructive communication patterns