Bonding and Attachment in Maltreated Children

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Lesson 2: Frequently Asked Questions about Bonding and Attachment
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In this lesson, learn more about:

  • How attachment and bonding can be defined

  • Some of the physiological processes at work during attachment and bonding experiences

  • Experiences that facilitate bonding

  • The role of attunement in bonding and attachment.


What is attachment?

Well, it depends.  The word attachment is used frequently by mental health, child development and child protection workers but it has slightly different meanings in these different contexts.  The first thing to know is that we humans create many kinds of bonds.  A bond is a connection between one person and another.  In the field of infant development, “attachment” refers to a special bond characterized by unique qualities that forms in maternal-infant or primary caregiver-infant relationships. The attachment bond has several key elements: (1) it is an enduring emotional relationship with a specific person; (2) the relationship brings safety, comfort, soothing and pleasure; (3) loss or threat of loss of the person evokes intense distress.  This special form of relationship is often best characterized by the maternal-child relationship. 


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