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Reactive Attachment Disorder
Signs & Symptoms
Children that were neglected, abused, or frequently changed primary caregivers, protect themselves from emotional and physical harm by becoming detached. Detachment is a psychological defence mechanism that allows the child to control the environment and the relationships they build with those around them (they will choose whom they love) in order to avoid disappointment and rejection. This way, they avoid being disappointed by somebody they never loved and cannot be abandoned by somebody they have never been loved by.
One of the significant indicators of reactive attachment disorder in children younger than 1 years old are abnormal crying patterns, they either rarely cry, or cry with rage (an abnormal behavior in young babies). Young children rarely verbalize and won't respond to adults' smiles. When hugged, they become limber and stiff and may try to wrestle away. These children are not interested in playing, but they can find entertainment in inflicting pain by pinching themselves or pulling their own hair.
Once they grow older, these children show an increased resistance to pain which makes physical punishment (spanking) an inefficient discipline method. They often display a charming and an inappropriate affection towards strangers, but once the adult gets emotionally closer to them, they respond aggressively. These children can physically hurt people around them (peers, siblings) and even animals without having any feelings of remorse. They can become fascinated with everything that shocks and repulses authority figures. They can lie, cheat and steal without feeling guilt.
Signs and symptoms of reactive attachment disorder, disinhibited type, include:
Other reactive attachment disorder symptoms:
Article by Alina Morrow
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