By David J. Wallin PhD
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Additional info for Attachment in Psychotherapy
203) Bowlby theorized that from early infancy the individual’s working model of attachment enables him or her to recognize patterns of interaction with the caregiver that have already repeatedly occurred and thus to “know” what the caregiver will do next. Because the working model influences both expectations and the behavior that flows from them, it can shape interactions as well as being shaped by them. The most functional models of attachment are truly “working” models: They have a provisional quality that opens them to modification on the basis of new experience.
Similarly, the ambivalent infant is not merely preoccupied with mother: He actively seeks contact and strictly confines his attention to monitoring her whereabouts; completely ignoring the toys, he seems to scan the interpersonal environment, vigilant for the slightest cue that might amplify his distress. We can infer that he is hyperactivating his attachment system to both capture his mother’s unpredictable attention and inhibit the autonomous exploration she has tended to discourage (Main, 1995, 1999).
On the other hand, it also seems probable that the attachment patterns Ainsworth codified through the Strange Situation are internalized as structured patterns in the mind. What begin, in other words, as biologically driven interactions may register psychologically as mental representations that continue lifelong to shape behavior and subjective experience whether or not the original attachment figures are physically present. Whereas Ainsworth studied attachment behavior in infancy, it remained for her most gifted student, Mary Main, to illuminate the ways in which early experiences of attachment are encoded in the mind and preserved as influences on the future relationships— with self and others—of the older child and the adult.
Attachment in Psychotherapy by David J. Wallin PhD