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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Understanding the DMM of Attachment

I have been interested in Attachment Theory since I studied it as part of my degree in Sociology back in 2007. When studying the Family it made complete sense to me that our feelings of safety and perception of danger could influence our personality and how we interact in all our relationships. Since then I have spent a lot of time studying the different models and supporting my coaching clients to become more secure in the attachment.

The most recent and contemporary model of attachment theory is the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment. This is the work of Patricia Crittenden and it breaks down the three dominant attachment styles into A, B and C with an AC and A/C strategy that combines both. This, in the past, was often referred to a disorganised. Each strategy (not style) is further broken down into sections B1-5, A1-8 and C1-8. The more unresolved trauma a person has in their life the higher their number.

Most people fall somewhere between A1/2, B1-5 and C1/2, with quite a few at a naïve B, meaning the grew up with Type B parents without much exposure to threat or danger. The A1 and A2 involve inhibited affect and idealization, which in simple terms means the person struggles to acknowledge their negative feelings and sees their childhood and parents as pretty perfect even if it wasn't.

C1 and C2 cycle between being disarming and coercive behaviour. Which basically means they cycle through wanting comfort, displays of anger or frustration, feelings or fear and back around to wanting comfort again. This can be seen as pulling people close and then pushing them away when they don't get what they need. They are more overtly emotional that Type A.

No one strategy is better that the other because they are all useful depending on what is going on around us in our relationships. Obviously getting to be a B and being able to cycle from B1 to B5 is optimal and when we are not facing a threat in our life it is the healthiest way to be.

People who didn't grow up with a type B can earn it with the right help. The first step is recognising that your strategy is not working. This is called a reorganising B and is typified by the awareness but not the change. The earned B integrates the awareness and the change and starts to interact differently in their relationships with others.

For me, as a coach, supporting people through this change is some of the most important and rewarding work I do.

Thanks for reading. I hope our paths cross again in future.


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