Pursue What Matters
Episode 239: Book Review – The Power of Attachment
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
How are you coping? Maybe you have a strong toolbox of self care activities and you’re not afraid to use them. That’s great. But did you know that in addition to self regulation skills as humans, we benefit immensely from CO regulating with others in a word, or talking about attachment?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:37
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So welcome. It’s another month, which means it’s time for another book review. And I’m really excited to share the book with you today. It’s one that I’ve found immensely helpful, not only in my clinical work, my personal life, but also in my leadership work. And so you know, you might be listening as a business leader, and you know, you maybe maybe the tracks, the track, snagged, when you heard that we’re going to be talking about a book on attachment. But I’m telling you, attachment is core to what it means to be a human. And so awareness of attachment. And you know, why it’s important how it’s foundational how we can get tripped up by it is so valuable for any role in your life, and certainly very applicable at work. Because right as Brene, brown teaches, we bring our whole selves to work. And so there’s, you know, it’s a nice idea to think maybe that you could split off, the parts of yourself that aren’t, aren’t functioning highly when you walk into the office or walk into work. But we know that that’s not how life works. And I also just think this is such an incredibly valuable perspective, for making sense of yourself and others. Because, of course, as humans, we are wired for connection. There’s so much strong research that confirms that, right? So brain imaging, other studies that really show that when we lack deep, meaningful connections, we suffer we have a much higher mortality rate, and all cause morbidity rate. And so it’s something that of course, we need to be paying attention to, because if we’re not paying attention to the strength of our attachments, it’s it’s difficult to to really have well being in life, no one is an island. And so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today on the podcast.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:54
And so the book is the power of attachment, how to create deep and lasting, intimate relationships. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me. This book is by Diane Poole, Heller, PhD. This book came out in 2019. So it’s not it’s not that old. And it’s very, very good, very relevant. Now, attachment research has been around for a long time. Some of the first work in psychology in the modern era, really is around attachment. So we think about Bowlby, we think about Ainsworth and the strange situation, we talk we think about Harlow and the monkeys I’ve talked about I think all of all of our some of all of these folks work at one time or another in the podcast. And so that might tell you a little bit about me. So my foundational training, and you know, just the perspective that has always made the most sense to me, is an attachment perspective. And so I, you know, when I first came across some of this research is just, it just rang true. And it made so much sense. And so I’m a big fan of attachment. And not just that I have seen how incredibly impactful and understanding of attachment can be in every realm of life. So whether that’s in my work as a clinical in clinical work as a psychologist, whether that is in leadership work with teams, with leaders, or whether that is in my personal life. And so let’s hear what others are saying about the book. So Dr. Heller has a depth of heart, intellect and experience that is rare and remarkable. And it shows on every page and this is by Rick Hansen, PhD author of resilient if you listen to the podcast, you know I’m a fan of him. And from Lisa Ferenc, she’s a social worker. She said this book is a gift nurturing, enlightening and healing. And then from Terence real an LCSW. So he is, he is a master clinician when it comes to couples work. I’ve also talked plenty about his work on the podcast. And he’s the author of The New Rules of marriage. He’s also the author of us, I think I reviewed that not too long ago, he said gives you the practical tools, you need to understand yourself and your partner at the deepest level, it has the power to change your life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:26
And so let’s learn a little bit about Diane Poole Heller, she is a therapist, author and leading expert in adult attachment theory, the somatic experiencing method of trauma resolution, and a synthesis of integrative healing methods. And so you can learn more about her on her website, of course, I will link to that in the show notes. So if you want to learn a little bit more about her about the book, and about her work, that that will be a useful resource for you. And so of course, with every month with a book review, I’m not going to try and walk you through the whole book. But I just want to give you a sense for the book, a little bit of flavor to know, hopefully, to help you make an informed decision about whether this could be a useful book for you, right, we want to value your time, we want to be respectful of your time.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:16
And so she first starts by talking about some themes that she has come across again, and again and again, in her work. And these are some of the questions and I think they’re really good reflection questions. First, how do we heal broken connections to ourselves and others? And how can we come back to a sense of wholeness, we all started whole. But so many of us feel broken, we feel like we’ve been fractured or that we’re fragile. And so that’s a really important first question. Second, how do we integrate our diverse experiences, and all the parts of ourselves that feel so broken and fragmented? So really, this question is, how do we integrate integration? I think a really helpful way to think about integration is integration equals mental health. So when we have these fractured parts of ourselves, whether that is because of traumatic experience, you know, disconnect between our values and our actions, we become fragmented, and that undermines our psychic well being that undermines our mental health. And so she’s really looking at the process of integration. How do we, how do we get back to a place of wholeness recognizing that life is hard, and we all get hit upside the head by life in one form? Or another? Third question, how do we emerge from incredible loss, fear and powerlessness to regain empowerment and resiliency? So did I just mentioned that life is hard? And that’s really what she speaks to here with this question. trauma happens. And trauma, trauma happens for so many of us. And I think, you know, we throw that term around. But the truth is, trauma is an invisible epidemic in our world, I see it all the time in my clinical work, but also in my leadership work, we have broken people who are who are trying to lead and trying to manage and trying to be successful. And it doesn’t work, right.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:15
Like we create a lot of pain, we wreak a lot of havoc, when we don’t take care of our own work first. And then fourth, when trauma robs us of our physical self, through dissociation or loss of boundaries, how do we become embodied and safely connected again. And so this is specifically for individuals who really struggle with those trauma or, or PTSD symptoms. Now that might not fit for everyone. But also, this experience of being disembodied or being disconnected from ourselves and our bodies is also, you know, it’s a plague like we see it all over the place. And so you might not think that that applies to you. But as you listen up to the book, and some of the things that she shares, you might find that that some of those concepts ring more true than that, maybe you would like and then the fifth question, I think I said four, but there are five questions. How do we reclaim our birthright to feel grounded and centered, to feel connection and compassion, to have access to all the facets of our humaneness and our spiritual nature? Okay, so what she has found in her work in her career is that one key to answering these questions can be found by compassionately understanding our own and others early relationship templates. We all have relationship templates, based on our very early experiences within our own homes, our own families, and that is really the root of attachment. We learn how to connect, or we have disruptions to connection based on the quality of our earliest A caregiver interactions with our parents in our homes, in our families of origin. And so when we can apply interventions, or create relevant corrective experiences related to putting attachment theory in into action, we really can heal, we really can, you know, see how we might get tripped up and sidestep some of those concerns. And so she continues that the book is meant to help help you answer some of these questions by uncovering your own early attachments, history.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:36
So that’s one thing she covers, understanding the various attachment styles. And then I love this, because we always want to bring you practical help focus on practical, practical approaches toward healing attachment wounds. What’s true is virtually all of us have attachment wounds, in one way or another. And so specifically, she will look at how attachment wounds affect our adult relationships, and how we can increase our ability to enjoy secure attachment, regardless of the type of childhood experiences we may have enjoyed or endured. And so one of the things that I really love about the book is her perspective around around secure attachment, that as humans, right, we were born whole. And so we we move towards a secure attachment. And so when we can, even if that hasn’t been our experience in childhood, we can move towards a secure attachment. So you’re not just stuck, or you’re not just, you know, destined to continue to have a poor attachment style, or an ineffective attachment style. But as humans, we grow towards growth. And so developing an awareness about your attachment style, how that shows up for you in the present, can really be quite empowering, to help you to move toward a secure attachment style.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:00
And so, you know, she then goes over the common attachment styles, and just kind of spells those out. And then with the book she, she spends time on each of those. And it’s also just a really good review of that, to really look at what are these attachment styles? How do they show up? What are some of the symptoms, how am I recognize these. And so I will just end with a quick description of each of these attachment styles. And then I hope that gives you some good information about this book. So first is secure attachment. This is the type of attachment in the ideal situation. So securely attached, people typically grow up with plenty of love and support from consistently responsive caregivers. And as adults, they are interdependent, connecting with others in healthy, mutually beneficial ways. So that’s what we really want to move towards. Second is avoidant attachment. People with this attachment style have a tendency to keep intimacy at arm’s length, or to diminish the importance of relationships. So connection is anxiety provoking, and so avoidance becomes the solution. These children were often neglected, maybe they were left alone a lot as children, but they tend to put the brakes on their attachment system and resist connection. And then the third style is ambivalent attachment. People with the ambivalence adaption deal with a lot of anxiety about having their needs met, or feeling secure in being loved or lovable. So there are times that these folks are needy, and move towards relationship, and other times where they flee from relationships. So that’s why it looks ambivalent, because they’re scared, and so it’s safer to move away. And so these often had inconsistent caregiving experiences, these individuals as well, they might be very hyper vigilant about relational slides or any hint of abandonment. And then the last attachment style is disorganized attachment. This is characterized by an excess of fear. And the attachment system is at cross purposes with the instinct to survive threat. disorganized, really, it is a more significant trauma based attachment style. But it’s one that’s characterized as chaotic, and it’s really difficult to get one’s grounding. And so the this is just a short little introduction to the book. I hope that it gave you a sense of what you could expect from this book. It’s really useful. I think it’s really helpful. I’ve read a lot of books about attachment. This is one of the most helpful ones I found.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:44
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/239-powerofattachment. I hope you’ll consider joining me on Instagram at @dr.melissasmith Well, I always have more resources tied to the podcast. And if you’re so inclined that you would consider giving the podcast a five star review on podcasts or on Apple, podcasts or Spotify. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai