You’re Not Crazy: Collective Disorganized Attachment Style
You’re Not Crazy
Collective Disorganized Attachment Style
Finding a better sense of self and creating healthy boundaries
The dynamics in the world and how it’s affecting us can lead to the perception that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re crazy, or that we’re going insane. I am here to reassure you that you are not crazy.
I understand where that perception is coming from. Let’s examine what is happening in the world around us in regard to attachment styles and how it is leading to this perception within us. There are four main attachment styles: Secure, Anxious/Ambivalent, Avoidant, and Disorganized Attachment.
Here we are going to discuss the Disorganized Attachment style – where it comes from and how it presents in our lives. In adults, Disorganized Attachment comes from a disoriented or unresolved trauma state of the nervous system. Adults with Disorganized Attachment often lack coherence in their relationships, in their behaviors, in their words, thoughts, and actions. They might feel torn between wanting, yearing, and reaching out for love and connection, then feeling fear and terror when that love and connection is present and being offered to them. Those with a disorganized attachment style often find themselves in a freeze or dissociative state when faced with a choice of whether to receive and embrace love and connection…or not.
Individuals may have difficulty self-regulating or co-regulating their emotions. For example, if someone around them is anxious or agitated, the individual’s may follow-suit and experience anxiety or agitation, as well. They can’t seem to maintain their own emotional state, but instead, follow the emotional lead of those around them. This can lead to a struggle to maintain close connections, resulting in chronic feelings of insecurity in relationships. To overcome this, it is paramount that individuals with a Disorganized Attachment style develop a sense of safety.
Where does the Disorganized Attachment Style begin? What does it have to do with what is happening in the world around us?
It starts at birth, and some believe in utero, within the family unit. Disorganized Attachment develops when caregivers, a child’s source of safety, protection, and guidance in this world, become a source of fear and threat. It often presents itself in individuals who were physically, verbally, or sexually abused or in those who witnessed ongoing abuse in their childhood homes. It can also come from neglect and a lack of meaningful engagement from caregivers. Any of these childhood traumas could lead to a Disorganized Attachment style.
The caregivers of children with a Disorganized Attachment style have often experienced abuse themselves; and therefore, have unresolved trauma in their own life. A Disorganized Attachment style gets passed on implicitly, not explicitly. It has nothing to do with whether parents love their children or not. The unresolved trauma of the parents can inadvertently be passed on to the children without ever intending to do so. Children can have a hard time adapting to their parent’s behaviors when they’re unpredictable. The parent, or caregiver, might have sought a connection with the child but rejected the connection and closeness out of their own repressed fears. Repressed fears and unresolved traumas can cause a person to act in irrational, inconsistent, unpredictable, and sometimes abusive ways.
Children raised by such individuals are often torn between loving, needing, and reaching out for connection with their parents or caregivers, followed by a sense of fear and terror due to the unpredictability and inconsistency in how their parents or caregivers might respond to their needs. On one had, the child wants to reach out, and on the other hand, there’s terror around what might result. Think of it as having one foot on the brake and the other on the gas, and you’re just spinning your wheels.
Now, let’s look at the bigger picture of what’s happening in the world around us. The ‘caregivers’ of our country are our elected officials, and I am not specifically referencing any political party. At all levels of government, from local all the way up to federal, our elected officials are not always doing what it takes to protect us. In recent decades, corporations have reaped more protective benefits from our government than the people have. When we feel like our government officials are taking away our rights, we sense a loss of safety and protection from those who are supposed to represent us at each level of our government and protect us from fraud, corruption, and other predatory practices.
Regardless of your attachment style, even if you had a healthy, secure attachment style as a child, you are still part of the collective, and collectively we are all being exposed to dynamics that can lead to a Disorganized Attachment style. I have spoken to many individuals in recent years who have concluded that there is something wrong with me–a belief that can be symptomatic of a disorganized attachment style.
Why am I feeling overwhelmed? Why am I so stressed?
Why can’t I sleep?
Why can’t I shut my mind off?
These are hallmark ruminations of a Disorganized Attachment style. The way to heal this attachment style is through repairing the attachment rupture. Attachment ruptures happen in relationships, and they’re normal. Whether the relationship is with an individual, group, organization, or with our country, state, or community, we will, at some point, experience hurt feelings.
If you’re experiencing this type of dynamic in your life, and you’re starting to think that you’re crazy, trust me, you’re not. It’s happening to a lot of people. Because attachment ruptures happen in relationship, they must also be repaired in relationship. This is a great reason, even if just temporarily, to seek a therapist to work on repairing attachment ruptures. These sessions will give you a better sense of self, so you have more awareness around it and clarity on how to establish healthy boundaries.
It can be tricky, and not impossible, to repair ruptures when the hurt comes from an organization, government, state, country, or other collective entity. We are witnessing how people are making their needs known to these collective entities–through protests, boycotts, petitions, and more recently, on various social media platforms. Sometimes there is a response to the people, and other times, there isn’t. As with individuals, you can get a sense of which collective entities respond to their customers and constituents and which ones ignore and exert power over them.
The key is to be aware. Notice what’s happening collectively, and notice how it affects you. Is it causing you distress that’s adversely affecting your life? If so, it’s time to set boundaries. Talk to someone. Hire a coach or a therapist. Stop the doom scrolling, and learn to identify your stressors accurately so you can address them appropriately. Even in a social, political, and economic climate like we’re experiencing now, healthy boundaries can help protect you from letting some of these stressors get under your skin.
Start seeing the issue for what it really is, and you’ll realize you’re not crazy! You’re human.
I’m Jennifer Whitacre, trauma specialist, empowerment strategist and shadow guide, and I help people strengthen their internal relationships through a process of SELF discovery. I guide and support my clients through the transformative process of developing SELF presence so they can shift from rigidity, reactiveness, and chaos into more flexibility, responsiveness, and connectedness.
People who are able to make this internal shift find they have more agency, decisions aren’t as difficult, they have more emotional stamina to deal with life’s ups and downs; and they have much higher levels of empathy and understanding for themselves and others.
The process is similar and unique for each client. Healing the invisible wounds inflicted from past trauma requires that we become familiar with non-verbal communication. That’s because the subconscious mind communicates non-verbally and unconsciously, the opposite kind of communication valued by the conscious mind. By understanding our own subconscious minds, the two minds become coherent and our lives naturally become more integrated.
Learn more at: jenniferwhitacre.com
This blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat or diagnose. Reading this blog does not create a practitioner/client relationship with Jennifer Whitacre or with Jennifer Whitacre LLC. If you find this information to be relevant to you, you are encouraged to connect with a licensed mental health care professional. If you are interested in becoming a client of Jennifer Whitacre LLC, please connect by visiting: jenniferwhitacre.com