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Social Principles Of Behavior: Anxiety-Attachment Theory

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In a time that has many individuals on edge, anxiety personality is common in today’s social norm. A way that many individuals have been able to overcome their panic attacks have been by attaching themselves to someone or something that makes them feel comfortable or at ease. Generally, these behavioral traits are triggered through cultural or environmental traits that have been infused in them pre-birth and post-birth. As individuals get older, anxiety-attachment personality can resonate and becomes less manageable, this is why we have many subjects today that have been treated for obesity, excessive shopping, or hoarding. Other areas that can be triggered by anxiety-attachment, is when you have individuals who have lost their loved ones, a family pet, or have ended a relationship. Both examples show how one can flare up their anxiety, in order to treat them, they need to eat comfort food to fill that gap, have the latest merchandise to fulfill that subconscious emptiness, or keep items that remind them of their past loved ones to morn their loss.

Historically, both theories have been studied separately by two individual behaviorists, one being John Bowlby on Attachment theory and Sigmund Freud on Anxiety theory. This paper will explain how one theory goes hand-in-hand with the other, and manifest itself consciously and subconsciously.

Short Autobiography of Bowlby and Freud

John Bowlby was a prominent British psychologist, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, best known for his work on child development and the advancement of the concept of attachment. He strongly believed that both behavioral and mental health problems had their deep roots in an early childhood problem. He was born in London on February 26, 1907, and raised by a nanny. Bowlby attended Trinity College at Cambridge where he studied pre-clinical sciences and psychology. John Bowlby was the pioneer behind the development of attachment theory. John Bowlby described the concept of attachment as the lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. He shared his psychoanalytic view that early childhood experiences have a significant impact on the development and behavior of children in their later life (Famous Psychologists, 2018).

Now Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg, Austria. Freud is concerned specifically with neuropsychology. By his observations and experience, he contributed a great deal to the industry. The study of hysteria and then sexuality began with Freud. Sigmund Freud has been a very controversial 20th century personality (Famous Psychologists, 2018). Freud made anxiety an important part of his personality theory, asserting that it is fundamental to the development of all neurotic and psychotic behavior. He also described anxiety as an objectless fear, meaning that we cannot point to its source, to a specific object that caused it (Schultz & Shultz, 2017).

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Development of the Theory by the Theorist

Bowlby defined attachment theory under four models, 1) Preattachment, 2) Clear-cut Attachment, 3) Goal Corrected, and 4) Abstract Attachment. All four stages are taught early on in life and reemerge over time as someone deals with an emotional situation during adulthood to overcome a particular life event. As an example, Preattachment, this can be utilized when someone is craving attention from another person through a visual emotion. Now Clear-cut Attachment is something that someone expresses when they are leaving for a long trip and find it hard to say goodbye. Whereas Goal Corrected, is when someone has finally been able to distract themselves with something else to avoid attachment panic. Finally, everyone unconsciously lives with Abstract Attachment by fulfilling themselves with any general security that completes their lives (Grobman, 2008). Bowlby also outlined significant individual differences in the functioning of the attachment system. Interactions with attachment figures who are available in times of need, and who are sensitive and responsive to bids for proximity and support, promote a stable sense of attachment security and build positive mental representations of self and others (Mikulincer & Shaver,2012).

Bowlby (1969) wrote, fully functional attachment behavior always matures early in the life-cycle and is soon active at intense levels; whereas, in adulthood, attachment behavior is usually active at lower levels of intensity or, in some species, hardly active at all. Sexual behavior, by contrast, matures later; and, when seen in the immature, it is usually only in fragmentary and nonfunctional form. Attachment behavior is made up of a number of component patterns and the same is true of sexual behavior. Some components are shared. They are thus seen as elements in both sorts of behavior, though usually more typically in one than in the other.

Now when it comes to cultural attachment personality, most attachment theorists recognize the role of culture. They suggest that culture influences only specific behaviors that demonstrate the theory and that there is a substantial core of attachment that is immune from cultural influence (Main, 1990). Because of socioeconomic, traditions, and religious beliefs, that the Latin community has unconsciously influenced attachment personalities by proxy. Moreover, the Latin community will influence younger individuals by reminding them of their migrating heritage and struggling past to ensure cultural attachment. Furthermore, Mexican-American females tend to stay at home longer than males, unless they are going to attend a university that is away from home. Now, because of religious beliefs, that they cannot leave home unless they are engaged. Another example is, attachment personality by tradition, if you are the youngest female or an unmarried male of your family, you are expected to take care of your parents during retirement and old age (Barragan, 2019).

Freud defined anxiety under three models, 1) reality or objective anxiety, 2) neurotic anxiety, and 3) moral anxiety. All three manifest over the situation of stress someone is having at that particular moment. As an example, America is currently living through Reality Anxiety that has been caused by real-world situations, current events, police brutality, current political administration, or the mass shootings that have happened over the years. Now, Neurotic Anxiety is when someone displaced in a situation or predicament that can cause them to act on impulse, to cause harm to others, themselves, or contribute to an unmoral action. Finally, Moral Anxiety, which is also known as the superego killer, is normally manifested when confronted during a conflict, being punished for doing something ethically wrong, or providing inaccurate information without backup. The distinction between these three types of anxiety does not mean that the person who is experiencing anxiety is aware of its actual source (Hall, 1955).


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Social Principles Of Behavior: Anxiety-Attachment Theory. (2021, September 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
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