Attachment Styles and Trauma Responses

Ok, so here’s the stuff I think about at 4am last night, apparently.

There are 2 types of trauma response: hyperarousal (brain thinks trauma is happening at all times), and desensitization/depersonalization (brain shuts off feeling in order to cope). The typical behavioral response to hyperarousal is numbing. The typical behavioral response to desensitization is recklessness and sensation-seeking:

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From The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk

Similarly, there are 2 types of dysregulated attachment styles: avoidant attachment (detachment, fear of intimacy), and anxious attachment (overwhelming need for intimacy):

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I’d always thought hyperarousal would make for anxious attachment and desensitization for avoidant. Right? It’s plausible. A hyperaroused person seeks the soothing of intimacy while a desensitized person is accustomed to coping alone.

But what if I told you…

What if a desensitized person seeks intimacy because they need more of it to feel that it’s real? And what if a hyperaroused person avoids it because they feel too much already, so more intimacy is too intense?

Obviously there are also hybrids of both trauma responses and attachment styles, and since humans aren’t robots, they can vacillate between polarities or even feel both at the same time. But I think it’s interesting to consider that a hyperaroused person seeking “intimacy” (and remember, our culture is fucked up about what intimacy actually is) may actually just be seeking a way of putting out the fires, no different from any other coping mechanism, rather than intimacy itself – and that a desensitized person, one who deals efficiently with external circumstances because they suppress their emotions throughout, may keep taking more and more stabs at intimacy that end up looking like anxious attachment patterns because they can never truly feel it within themselves.

Food for thought.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this but the day I put all the puzzle pieces together I’m gonna declare myself a fuckin genius.

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