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Dr. Wendy Walsh
Traumatic bonds arise from painful experiences with parents, partners and loved ones.
They often develop early on in life as a result of physical violence, neglect and psychological or sexual abuse.
These traumatic experiences often create disorganized attachments or difficulties with trust, bonding and interdependence.
Some individuals may be extremely anxious and appear “clingy,” desiring constant reassurance from their partners, while others fear intimacy and avoid close relationships.
There are also some individuals who are characteristic of both of these attachment patterns, resulting in significant disorganization and inconsistency in their relationships.
These individuals are both comforted and frightened by close relationships, but they tend to avoid and resist any type of emotional intimacy.
Regardless, these attachment insecurities can create difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships with family members, friends, peers and romantic partners.
In her recent trial, she has reported a history of physical abuse by her parents as a young child.
Unfortunately, for many victims of violence, this can create a cycle where victims continue to be involved in abusive relationships or they themselves may become a perpetrator of violence or emotional abuse.
It’s not uncommon for someone who’s been abused to lash out and hit back.
Unfortunately, Jodi’s case is on the extreme end. Her traumatic childhood, in addition to several unstable relationships and even obsessive behavior at times, is likely to play a significant role in her violent behavior.
Jodi’s alleged traumatic childhood experiences probably created difficulties for her in her romantic relationships – that is, difficulties in securely attaching or bonding with others.
Worse yet, she may have become attracted to people who treat her badly. When pain is familiar, it is often something we seek out.
“Develop coping strategies that help minimize
clinginess to a relationship partner.”
Her insecurities, jealousy and obsessions signal an anxious attachment pattern.
Staying with partners after they have cheated and been violent and continuing to have sexual relationships with an ex is not healthy and not consistent with a secure attachment or bond to another being.
These behaviors tend to be more characteristic of someone constantly in need of closeness and support of their partner and who is extremely fearful of abandonment and being alone.
It’s also not uncommon for anxiously attached people to jump from one serious, passionate relationship immediately into another, just as Jodi did.
Research has demonstrated an anxious attachment can often lead one to be attracted to unhealthy relationships.
This is why it’s important to identify thought and behavior patterns characteristic of anxious attachments and manage these tendencies to become involved in unhealthy relationships.
That means being brave enough to walk away from those who can’t give a fair exchange of care.
Healing can be done through healthy relationships or with a therapist.
Finding a stable, trustworthy individual is the first step. Develop coping strategies that help minimize clinginess, hypersensitivity to abandonment and negative evaluations of a relationship partner.
This is probably best done in the safety of a therapist’s office. Of course, developing honest, open communication with your partner is key to any healthy relationship.
Have you been keeping up with the Jodi Arias trial? Do you recognize any attachment patterns in your own dating behavior?
Photo source: abcnews.go.com.