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QotD: on Human Attachment

So it is with emotional knowledge. In the first years of life, as (a child's) brain passes from the generous scaffold to the narrow template, a child extracts patterns from his relationships. Before any glimmerings of event memory appear, he stores an impression of what love FEELS like. Neural memory compresses theses qualities into a few powerful Attractors--any single instance a featherweight, but accumulated experience leaves a dense imprint. That concentrated knowledge whispers to a child from beneath the veil of consciousness, telling him what relationships ARE, how they function, what to anticipate, how to conduct them. If a parent loves him in the healthiest way, wherein his needs are paramount, mistakes are forgiven, patience is plentiful, and hurts are soothed as best they can be, then THAT is how he will relate to himself and others. Anomalous love--one where his needs don't matter, or where love is suffocating or autonomy intolerable--makes its ineradicable limbic stamp. Healthy loving then becomes incomprehensible.

Zeroing in on HOW to love goes hand in hand with WHOM. A baby strives to tune in to his parents, but he cannot judge their goodness. He attaches to whoever is there, with the unconditional fixity we profess to require of later attachments: for better or worse;, for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. Attachment is not a critic: a child adores his mother's face, and he runs to her whether she is pretty or plain. And he prefers the emotional patterns of the family he knows, regardless of its objective merits. As an adult his heart will lean toward these outlines. The closer a potential mate matches his prototypes, the more enticed and entranced he will be--the more he will feel that here, at last, with this person, he BELONGS.

--p160 A General Theory of Love

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
hausfrauatu
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
I am fascinated by attachment theory.

It's currently my jam.
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
And you're currently parenting, right? You're molding brains. =-]
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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