This attachment style is a combination of the previous two (avoidant and ambivalent/anxious).
Disorganised children give inconsistent responses in the presence of their primary caregiver (often the mother). They seem disoriented and confused. This is likely the result of inconsistent behaviour from the parent, sometimes the parent is a safe and supportive person and sometimes dangerous.
Living with an unpredictable parent is frightening. The child depends on this person for their survival, but this person is unpredictable and unsafe. The child is torn between two biological drives; to be deeply connected to the parent and others, and secondly the drive for survival, to stay safe.
As adults, these people often desire intimacy but feel frightened when things become too intense. Their memories of this closeness and dependence may be terrifying, making them dissociate and back off. Becoming close to anyone can cause intense feelings to emerge of self-hate, confusion and anxiety.
This is often confusing for the partner as they sense the disorganised adults’ desire to be close and then backing off. Partners receive mixed messages.
This type of attachment is often passed down intergenerationally and not released from the family line until one person can integrate the trauma, their experiences and form a coherent narrative.
If you work with someone with this attachment style, they may:
- become threatening when they feel unsafe,
- energetically lash out
- be unpredictable
- have underdeveloped social skills
- have other odd behaviours
- display erratic behaviour that makes it hard to keep a job
If you feel this is you, know that there is some deep healing work to do. It is NORMAL for you to want to be close to people, and also to be terrified when this starts to happen. Be gentle with yourself. A wonderful way to work through this kind of history and attachment style is with a trained professional who can help guide you to re-wire the patterning and widen your window of tolerance relationally.
*Attachment theory by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth & Main & Solomon