Some studies have shown that preoccupied children are at most risk of developing anxiety, as they are the ones who are constantly worrying about their caregiver’s availability (Carlson & Sroufe, 1995). Other researchers have established a relationship between disorganized attachment and anxiety (Burmariu & Kerns, 2010). While these results might seem contradicting, Manassis (2001) pinpoints that different types of non-secure attachment styles may be associated with different types of anxiety. For instance, ambivalent children could be more likely to experience separation anxiety, disorganized children most often display school phobia, and avoidant children might be more prone to social phobia (Kerns & Brumariu, 2014).
These different findings support the idea that attachment insecurity can be associated with higher anxiety. This could be due to the fact that insecurely attached children might have difficulty in regulating their emotions. Indeed, since children who are insecurely attached to their caregiver do not benefit from having a secure base, they do not necessarily seek comfort from their caregiver. Instead of interacting with their caregiver, they might experience intense negative emotions, such as worrying about the availability of their caregiver. They are also more likely to have difficulties identifying their own emotions and those of others, as they tend to negatively evaluate situations that involve interacting with others.
In conclusion, the association between attachment and psychopathology shows that not only can attachment predict and affect relational patterns and behaviors, but can also affect individual characteristics, such as the case with insecure attachment and anxiety. Therefore, as a concept, attachment not only relates to the way we interact with other people, but can also relate to one’s overall psychological functioning.
Kerns, K. A., & Brumariu, L. E. (2014). Is Insecure Parent-Child Attachment a Risk Factor for the Development of Anxiety in Childhood or Adolescence ?
Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books. (Original work published 1969).