Understanding Attachment Disorders: The Link Between Trauma and Disconnection

Noah Warren
August 10, 2023

Attachment disorders are a complex and often misunderstood set of conditions that encompass a range of challenging symptoms affecting both children and adults. When individuals don't form secure attachments with caregivers during early childhood, they may develop patterns of disconnect, avoidance, and mistrust. Understanding the link between attachment disorders and trauma is crucial for recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate treatment options.

attachment disorders
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What are Attachment Disorders?

Attachment disorders are a set of conditions that can occur when a child doesn't form healthy attachments with their caregivers during their early years. These disorders typically stem from experiences where a caregiver is consistently unresponsive to the child's needs, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Over time, this can lead to patterns of behavior that make it challenging for individuals with attachment disorders to form healthy relationships.

Development of Attachment Disorders

Attachment disorders can develop when children are not provided with consistent, responsive, and sensitive care from their primary caregivers. Exposure to trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or other adverse childhood experiences, can also contribute to the development of these disorders. Attachment disorders can manifest as reactive attachment disorder (RAD), which involves extremely withdrawn behavior and disinclination to form relationships or disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED), which involves indiscriminate friendliness to strangers and a lack of appropriate wariness.

Symptoms of Attachment Disorders

The symptoms of attachment disorders can vary depending on the type of disorder. Children with RAD may be overly withdrawn and unresponsive to their caregivers or show a lack of interest in bonding with people. Conversely, children with DSED can be overly trusting with strangers and indifferent to their caregivers. In adults, symptoms can include difficulty forming intimate relationships, an intense fear of abandonment, and a tendency to avoid emotional closeness or vulnerable situations.

The Link between Attachment Disorders and Trauma

Attachment disorders are often linked to trauma, particularly that experienced in early childhood. Trauma disrupts the attachment process and increases the risk of developing an attachment disorder. When children consistently experience neglect, abuse, or other adverse experiences, they may be unable to trust or rely on caregivers. This can lead to a pattern of lifelong maladaptive behaviors and disconnection in relationships.

Treating Attachment Disorders

Treating attachment disorders involves a multifaceted approach, including therapy, mindfulness techniques, and modifying problematic attachment patterns. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), trauma-focused therapy, and attachment-based therapies are some of the most effective approaches for treating attachment disorders. With treatment, it is possible to improve relationships, boost self-esteem, and develop secure attachment patterns.


Attachment disorders are a serious and often-misunderstood set of conditions that can arise from the absence of healthy attachment and early exposure to trauma. Understanding the root causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatment options is crucial for individuals and their families to receive the help they need. With increasing awareness and effective treatment options, it is possible to aid those struggling with attachment disorders and help them develop healthy connection patterns, build safe intimate relationships, and move towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.

At Roots Mental Wellness, we are committed to guiding you towards nurturing connections and embracing a brighter future. Reach out now and let's journey together towards lasting bonds.

Noah Warren
Director of Business Development