mother providing no food, or a hard, physically unyielding “dummy” mother with food, opted for soft and cuddly (Bowlby, 1988). Considering the protective function served by attachment bonds, this suggests that food may be secondary to maternal comfort – at least to infant macaques - and that comfort may be another form of protection, and considered necessary for survival. It is certainly compelling to note that a baby monkey would choose comfort before food. Attachment theory integrated these findings to lend support to the idea that attachment bonds are integral to “…effective personality functioning and mental health” (Bowlby, 1988, p. 121).
An important concept in attachment theory relates the attachment bond to what Bowlby (1988) calls “representational models” of self and other, derived from object relations theory (p. 29). Slipp (1991) defines object relations theory as “…a two-person psychology…concerned with the development of the self in relationship to others” (p. 83). Slipp explains, in the context of object relations theory, that if a child does not attach to and internalize its mother, this may lead to any number of psychological problems that affect an individual’s ability to sustain relationships.
Attachment theory then, holds that emotional bonds, (i.e., comfort), are essential to individual well being. Attachment needs also promote a “…desire for comfort and support in adversity” (Bowlby, 1988, p. 121). The “adversity” refers initially to the threat of missing the most basic biological and emotional needs of food and comfort; however, as humans age, it seems that although the reliance on others for food may become less salient, the need for and seeking of emotional comfort remains. Bowlby (1988) notes that the drive toward attachment “…is most obvious whenever the person is frightened, fatigued, or sick, and is assuaged by comforting and caregiving” (p. 27). This drive for comfort and caregiving survives past infancy, as well. We seek care and comfort through a supportive relationship when we perceive that we are at less than our usual biological vigor, when we feel our physical or emotional environment is threatened, or our survival is at stake. It is natural, then, in the framework of attachment theory, to draw on the comfort of our attachment bonds, seeking a comforting relationship when we experience vulnerability.
The system created by an attachment bond is recursive, made of one who seeks another for help and comfort, from one who chooses or is compelled to provide that help and comfort (Bowlby, 1988). This presumes a healthy attachment bond, wherein the seeker pursues comfort and then is rewarded with it, and the caregiver also is rewarded by providing comfort.
As with other unmet needs for basic human drives, there are negative consequences when the attachment bond is not secure. Bowlby (1988) describes attachment bonds resulting from caregiver behaviors that are not promptly or consistently responsive: “anxious resistant” bonding occurs when the infant is unsure about caregiver response due to caregiver inconsistency, and “anxious avoidant” bonds are formed when the infant not only is uncertain about caregiver response, but actually expects rejection. Bowlby (1988) notes that threats to attachment bonds create a sense of increased risk, one that becomes an issue that we view as a threat to our very survival. Not only does the infant’s physical and emotional dependence on others become crucial to its continued existence; it also provides a context for describing the very threatening discomfort that