Attachment Theory and the Myth of Independence: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D.

When my wife and I began our healing journey together thru her dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, I was informed by some that it was “her” journey, and I should stay out of it. Many people on wordpress found me intrusive, and I was suspected of being a manipulative husband, probably even abusive.

As I continue to study attachment theory today, Walant points out what I would call “the myth of independence” that is idealized in Western cultures.* “Our society’s longstanding denial of merger phenomenon throughout the life cycle has actually increased the likelihood of personality disorders and addiction, precisely because autonomy and independence have been encouraged at the expense of attachment needs.”

How many of us have watched TV show or movies in which someone was negatively described as “needy” and thus that person was judged unworthy of any kind of romantic relationship? Steele points out that “weakness, emotionality, selfishness, entitlement, lack of character, laziness, childishness, manipulation and secondary gain” have all been associated with “dependency” in our society. She also notes that many in the therapeutic community as well view any dependency as pathological

And yet, attachment theory says just the opposite. John Bowlby, father of attachment theory states, “Human beings of all ages are found to be at their happiest and to be able to deploy their talents to the best advantage when they are confident that, standing behind them, there are one or more trusted persons who will come to their aid should difficulties arise.” We humans are wired to be attached to others to function at our best. It is not independence but interdependence which we should seek.

And from the start when we learned Karen had d.i.d., I took an active role in her healing. I had never subscribed to the prevailing culture’s smug independence. I got married because I “needed” a wife. Why get married unless you need one? Her disorder had always kept me from having a healthy relationship with her. So once we found out the cause of her dysfunction, I wanted to be a part of the solution. I wanted the chance for both of us to find happiness and fulfillment. And as I helped and encouraged Karen, and then the other girls, they were free to be dependent upon me as they convalesced and learned to work together.

Independence is for emotionally stunted people. Attachment theory would tend to put such people in the category of “dismissive-avoidant,” or unable to form intimate relationships (Wikipedia). I don’t want that for me or my girls. Yes, there is a place of insecure dependence in which a person lacks the proper attachment relationships, but that person is simply crying out for the stability he/she never had. Once I securely attached the girls to myself so that they could heal, it opened the possibility of a more healthy, interdependent relationship for both of us.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

*All quotes and references are from the trauma-pages link below unless otherwise noted.

http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/labs/Shaver/site/Publications/mikulincerpere03.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxious%E2%80%93avoidant_attachment#Attachment_patterns

http://www.thebowlbycentre.org.uk/journalAvol1edits.htm

http://www.trauma-pages.com/a/steele-2001.php

http://www.kathy-steele.com/publications/ (note Kathy’s support of attachment dynamics)

http://www.tag-uk.net/attachment.html

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffssong
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 20:45:15

    “Learn to do it yourself or do without.” That was one of my parent’s lessons. “Stand on your own two feet.” “Don’t need anyone.” All these were the early lessons in my life.

    But the fact is we are social creatures and to deny that fact is to deny ourselves, our true nature. The fact is we all want to be “needed” – and need to need someone sometimes.

    “You might not get what you want – but sometimes, just sometimes – you get what you need.” (to paraphrase an old song).

    I see nothing wrong with ‘needing’ someone now. If that makes me a “needy” person – then so be it. It makes me more ‘human’ than “I” am. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Anna Clark
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 10:28:46

    Aaah, you agree also being needy is a wonderful thing. Both husband and have been enjoying mutual neediness for the past 10 years and it keeps going strong. To the annoyance of our local supermarket crowd, we demonstrate extremely close contact on shopping trips, a hug, a kiss, a butt or a boobie squeeze, whatever. Fortunately, we’ve been the kind of people who could care less what others may think of these matters. We don’t hesitate to make obsessive phone calls to each other if one is gone too long because we get insecure, scared and lonely without the other. And you know what, that’s perfectly okay. As kids, we both went through horrific ordeal of similar kind and we do need lots of latching, and keeping close and never letting go. Because our parents and families failed to do that for us when we were little. Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy as well as heavy medication (for me) has been essential in keeping my clinical depression relatively at bay. The skills we’ve gathered over the years has turned us into effective therapists and life coaches to each other. And we teach our daughter the same. Yet it is impossible for therapy to address all of the complexities of the human nature. It is simply a tool designed to correct irrational thinking. Independence is not for everyone. We get amused at the long distance couples and people taking vacations apart. Their relationship may be something that works for them, but we are not even trying to change our co-dependency on each other. We enjoy it too much.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 29, 2013 @ 13:26:02

      Hi Anna,

      thank you very much for stopping by my blog and adding your experiences. I’m very affectionate with my wife as well, and now that the little girls have joined us, she regularly gets “rides” on the shopping carts from Meijers and Walmart as I make her stand on the cart, between my arms, and I push her with our things out to the car. When we are in church, she is always securely wrapped in my arms, holding hands and the like.

      We LOVE taking our vacations together, shopping together, being together and my dream is that when I get them thru the healing process, maybe, I’ll be able to follow my vocational dreams finally and we’ll be able to work together as well.

      It’s unfortunate the psychology experts have not truly integrated attachment theory throughout their methods and theories because I still read a lot of things that give lip service to it, but then advocate the older theories of independence and shunning proper dependence.

      Thanks again for stopping by and your comments!

      Sam

      Reply

  3. Trackback: Attachment Theory and “The Risk of Rescuing”?.: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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