ATTACHMENT AND BONDING
Abnormal attachment may occur if these normal cycles are disrupted, disordered, or never established. For example, the child born into a neglectful or abusive environment learns very different lessons compared with the situation in a loving home. For these children, "need" stimulates "arousal," but when the "need" is not met, "arousal" escalates to "high arousal." If still not gratified, the infant becomes exhausted or may develop self-gratification techniques (for example, rocking or head banging). The infant thus learns self-reliance and suspicion of the ability of others to meet her needs.
In an abusive environment, "high arousal" may be met with injury or physical silencing, which after a time may be experienced as a pathologic form of gratification. The parent's strong emotion creates an intense but unsatisfying connection. The child does not learn to trust and also loses the sense of logical consequences. These experiences, if repeated, become ingrained into the child's most fundamental behaviors and psyche.
From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.