Attachment Theory: The Case Study

According to the attachment theory proposed by Bowlby, there are several stages of attachment that start to develop in early childhood. In the case of Kandi, being born and living for the first ten months of her life in a dysfunctional family have led to the disruption of her attachment stages. In other words, the fact that she was completely neglected by her biological parents indicates that her attachment patterns were not formed – that is why she demonstrates opposite behavior even to the same people.

Thus, due to the disruption of her attachment, it is impossible to classify Kandi’s attachment style clearly. According to Ainsworth’s attachment theory, she demonstrates the signs of both insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant styles (McLeod, 2018b). This claim may be justified by evidence that shows that Kandi is indifferent to her foster mother at one time and cries when she is not around at other times. Similarly, she hugs and pushes away people who are strangers to her.

Due to her early isolation, absence of interactions, and multiple caregivers, Kandi could not develop a social reciprocal and mutual emotional attachment with neither her biological mother nor one caregiver. At the early stages of development when a child forms attachment with primary caregivers, Kandi was neglected and probably sexually and physically abused. Her sense of security that derives from secure attachment was not formed. The absence of mother as a source of attachment distorted her exploration behavior and lead to situational anxiety. In addition, she did not have an example of socially appropriate behavioral patterns associated with attachment to imitate them.

According to Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, there are eight stages that should be completed by a person for harmonious personality development. They include Trust vs Mistrust, Autonomy vs Shame, Initiative vs Guilt, Industry vs Inferiority, Identity vs Role Confusion, Intimacy vs Isolation, Generativity vs Stagnation, and Ego Integrity vs Despair (McLeod, 2018a). It is obvious that Kandi’s experience has impacted her first stage and the absence of attachment has led to heightened insecurity, anxiety, rapid changes in mood, impulsivity, and a lack of trust. That is why Kandi’s foster parents should understand that the girl’s behavior is unintentional and determined by the psychological trauma she had received in her childhood. They should not punish her for misbehavior, talk and listen to her carefully, be consistent, interact with Kandi at her younger emotional age, and surround her with love.


McLeod, S. (2018). Mary Ainsworth. Simply Psychology. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Attachment Theory: The Case Study." September 5, 2023.