How Lovelessness Begins: Bonding and Attachment

Lovelessness can have early origins. The capacity to bond with another person is formed within the first few months and years of life. Strange to say, this discovery was made only a few decades ago. In the 1940’s during the Second World War, London was the victim of V-2 rocket bombings from Germany. To protect their children, the British government embarked on a well-intentioned, but the somewhat misguided campaign, to evacuate vulnerable infants and youngsters to the safety of the countryside, where they resided in nurseries and foundling homes. Their parents stayed behind. But in time, some of these infants failed to thrive and some actually died. The British government wondered whether some kind of physical illness might account for these casualties. A child psychiatrist was sent to investigate. What he found was that infant children were being emotionally ignored. While food and clothing were being provided, no one hugged them.

The finding that hugging a child was vital for a child’s growth seems so obvious. But it does not necessarily happen as it should, and some parents ignore the importance of early nurturance. As mental health experts began to study the process, they referred to it as “attachment.” Attachment is crucial for all of man’s emotional development and even his intellectual capacity, and there is evidence now that brain structures, which regulate emotion, actually grow as a function of this attachment. Lovelessness is a possible outcome of defective attachment. Another word used for attachment is “bonding.” Animal trainers will describe the ability of a dog to bond with its owner. Some dogs can do this easily, others require more effort. A damaged animal does not bond easily to a new owner, and it can take many months for the dog to trust a man or woman; at first, the animal is lovelessness. The lovelessness stemming from failed attachment in humans can also be overcome. But unlike an animal, overcoming lovelessness requires insight and introspectiveness. A man needs to reflect upon the fact that he has trouble bonding and that there are definite underlying reasons for his inability to bond. Self-examination here takes work and is often painful. For some folks, over-bonding occurs. The woman may be so desperately eager to bond that she urgently rushes into a relationship without a second thought, only to be disappointed and hurt. She needs to understand why she is so needy in the first place.

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