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her family of origin around a father who abandoned her, or in a past relationship with a rejecting partner.

Coop Gordon, Baucom and Snyder (2000) consider relationship injuries in the context of forgiveness. They discuss the significance of exploring past relationship injuries in order to process them, which reduces their power. These researchers consider that relief from stress in the current relationship may be achieved by focusing on the past relationship injuries that have primed the current relational problems.

Attachment injuries seem related to “accommodative dilemmas,” which are characterized as “potentially destructive behavior,” and are perceived as threats to a relationship (Gaines, Reis, Summers, Rusbult, Cox, Wexler, Marelich & Kurland, 1997, p. 93). These authors present their ideas in the context of bridging attachment and interdependence theories, and cite two reactions to accommodative dilemmas that are threats to the relationship: exit and neglect. The perceived threat is based on acts of overt rejection or lack of caring, and result in a loss of security in the relationship (Gaines, et al., 1997). This parallel concept to attachment injury speaks of a challenge to the attachment bond, and resulting feelings of loss and insecurity, a cycle that continues toward decreased interdependence and a cycle of increased vulnerability to further threat.

Constructs Relevant to Adult Attachment

The current study examines challenges to adult attachment bonds, characterized as attachment injuries. It is useful to consider constructs related to adult attachment, as this will provide a framework for problem descriptors that individuals may identify.


This construct is primary to understanding the expression of attachment needs and bonds. The complexity of emotion defies a simple definition. Emotion as a construct related to attachment has context both intrapsychically and interpersonally. The emotional experience of attachment injury occurs within an individual, in the context of a relationship, and then is communicated to the other through emotional expression.

Greenberg and Safran (1987) describe emotion as mediated by cognition and somatic expression. This idea begins to convey the complexity of the experience and communication of emotion to oneself. Emotion also is a crucial construct in describing how people communicate in relationships. Greenberg and Safran discuss Plutchik’s (1980) “psychoevolutionary model” which holds that emotions serve a “…vital, biologically adaptive function (in that they) help organisms…deal with key survival issues” (1987, p. 117). Emotional expression as a survival tool runs parallel to Bowlby’s (1988) view that attachment bonds promote survival. It may help to explain the urgency that emotional arousal creates: As with the drives for food, sex and attachment, emotion seeks an outlet, and has a survival mission, enabling one to express meaning to self and others.

McFarlane and Van Der Kolk (1999) view attachment and emotion as interconnected; they describe emotional attachment as promoting biological survival in


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