objectiveLee

Anything untrue isn't there to be lived

Attachment theory as a scaffold

So my last post, while it doesn't seem like it, was the accumulation of many months (if not years) of self-discovery and introspection.

The really nice thing about attachment theory is that it gave me a scaffold to "hang" new thoughts and discoveries, making them easier to contextualize.

I might have thought multiple times to myself that I felt too complicated to understand or whatever, but those kinds of thoughts can just come and go. Without a narrative scaffold, they don't connect meaningfully to other events or ideas enough to be brought up when relevant.

If I have a framing of "I have an avoidant attachment type," suddenly I seek ways to confirm or deny this—I have a bucket in which to throw new evidence.

This could be problematic, of course. What if having an avoidant attachment type doesn't correspond to anything real, and I'm just making up a nice-sounding story? (I personally have this concern about Kegan's CDT levels.)

This is a legitimate concern. I believe that if I fell into such a hole, where I allowed confirmation bias to paint myself into a convenient narrative that didn't conform to reality's true bounds, I would only create more problems for myself down the line. I'd be creating delusions, not discovering true things. That is how I got myself into this whole situation in the first place!

A desperate and hurt five-year-old Lauren grasped all the straws in her reach to make up a story that could explain her situation. What she came up with worked pretty well for a time, and it was an impressive thing she did, too! But now that I am in a much safer place, it's getting in the way of Current Me's happiness and well-being. The pain is now something I carry around with me. It is self-inflicted—and pretty inconvenient.

I'm willing to accept the attachment theory story for a few reasons:

a) I'm not desperately clinging to it as the only explanation of how Lauren works. I'm much more willing and able to update on it than the aliefs I've nursed for 20 years. I don't feel attached to attachment theory.

b) It does seem to predict things about my behavior, like reporting almost no memories of my early relationship with my parents, being more interested in practical matters, etc. While the description of "anxious" or "secure" attachment does a worse job of predicting my behavior.

c) There's research on attachment types. I think the studies on infants are likely the most compelling, but don't take my word for it. I haven't really looked at the research myself.

d) People I trust seem to use attachment theory in a similar way, and my therapist uses it during our sessions.


Upon further reflection, this list leaves me feeling unsatisfied. I guess I didn't manage to convince myself.

My intuitions feel trustworthy, but I can't adequately explain why. There's a reasonable chance I'm making an epistemic error here somewhere. I know it's not of the same magnitude as the errors I made when I was five. But it's not clear to me at all what magnitude of error I ought to be targeting.

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