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Adult Attachment

child will fall into the last stage, detachment. This is when the child gives up the first bond and is receptive to making new attachments with other caregivers.

Biology and The Bond

Many biological processes foster this attachment bond. The first intimate encounter a mother and child has, breast feeding, is an amazing agent for attachment on many levels. The infant sees that this person is going to provide for him or her. The mother feeds the baby. It is such a simple social structure, but it is one all infants must learn. The infant knows that this is the person they can go to when they have needs to be filled. Also, the act of sucking is biologically reinforced in an infant. The release of oxytocin ensures that the baby will continue this adaptive behavior. Oxytocin is thought to be a major factor in the reinforcement of attachment. The mother also receives an influx of oxytocin when she is lactating. It promotes that “warm, fuzzy feeling” by stimulating the reward system in the brain. It helps to strengthen the bond between the two.

Breast feeding also involves other attachment-producing behaviors. It allows for cuddling (the baby must be close to nurse), gazing, feeling the physical warmth the mother provides, and also involves touching areas that are generally considered private. This opportunity for these types of actions sets this relationship apart from other relationships the mother and child will encounter. It also provides a lot of ventral to ventral contact. The ventral side of a human is the most vulnerable. It provides exposure to all major vital organs. Opening up this vulnerable side to another fosters a trust and helps strengthen the bond.

Problems and The Bond

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