Upon the establishment and strengthening of Bowlby and Ainsworth's Attachment Theory, other theorists have developed new studies which either tested the theory or sought to apply it in different contexts or scenarios. Inevitably, most scenarios and contexts that new theorists and psychology researchers took is the path to explaining grief and bereavement. Others, however, have centered on specific aspects of the theory and sought to expound and/or test it, as Ainsworth did when Bowlby was still in the process of strengthening his attachment theory.
One such study was conducted by Schore and Schore (2008), which explored the emotion regulation aspect of the theory. In their study, the authors realized the potential of attachment theory in developing a "therapeutic intervention" from which coping on the loss of the attachment figure would be a healthier process for the individual. The authors shifted from the issue of attachment to (emotion) regulation, determining that using principles from attachment theory, the therapeutic intervention to effective and healthier coping "can repair damage and create new structure that is more able to cope with the demands of life" (18). Schore and Schore have taken on the challenge that Bowlby presented after discussing attachment theory thoroughly: how knowledge about the theory could improve issues of attachment that children, particularly adolescent children, have to deal and cope with.
Another group of researchers sought to develop an integrative model of attachment, which centered on the "system activation dynamics" of individuals (Mikulnicer et. al., 2003:90). Anchoring on Bowlby and Ainsworth's study on secure and insecure attachments/relationships, the authors identified two kinds of activation systems that are triggered when there is a loss or separation from a loved one and/or attachment figure. The first activation system is called "deactivating," wherein the individual chooses to "distance people from their own emotions," and hence seeks isolation. This coping mechanism results to 'aversion of painful experience, but forgoes the effect of positive affect' that comes from acknowledging the loss or separation from a loved one or significant other. Conversely, "hyperactivating" occurs when the individual engages in different emotional states with different people, which could only delay the acknowledgment and despair that comes with the loss or separation. In the end, the individual would only feel an "exacerbation of the negative affect," which could further the feeling of despair within the individual. Ideally, however, based on the integrative model developed, healthy and secure individuals would be able to transition from co-regulation (with the loved one, significant other, or attachment figure) to self-regulation (94). As with Bowlby, the ultimate end to studying attachment theory is to enable individuals to cope with insecure attachments or loss/separation from the attachment figure, go through the process of transitioning from co-regulation to self-regulation in the healthiest way possible.
Deeper into Bowlby's concepts of attachment, separation anxiety, and attachment figures are the work of theorists Kim Bartholomew and Leonard Horowitz, researchers and theorists who worked together to determine, test, and establish the "two-dimensional four-category model of adult attachment" (Bartholomew and Shaver, 1998:31). In this model, both researchers theorized that adult attachment is anchored on two important models, which are based on one's conception of his/her self and of other people. Ultimately, an adult with healthy attachment would have a positive conception of his/her self and other people. Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) explained, "the valence of both self models and models of others are separate, important dimensions of an adult orientation to close relationships and that the two dimensions can vary independently" (240). While the models are related to each other in creating the kind of adult attachment one has, the models operate independently from each other, but are critical factors considered together when looking at the 'attachment health' of an adult.
The two dimensions are determined as the model of self and the model of others. The model of self is "associated with the degree of anxiety and dependency on other's approval in close relationships," while the model of others is the "tendency to seek out or avoid closeness in relationships" (Bartholomew and Shaver, 1998:31). The conception created in the model of self weights greatly on one's perceived importance of having someone in his/her life to turn to for approval. The model of others, meanwhile, operates when the individual is deciding whether or not to become attached with another individual and to further the level or "closeness" of relationship to the point of making that person as his/her attachment figure.
The level of dependency and closeness that one establishes with an attachment figure could lead to different "schemes," which make up Bartholomew and Horowitz' "4-category classification scheme" of adult attachment: (1) secure, (2) dismissing, (3) fearful, and (4) preoccupied. Each category describes a specific kind of relationship between the adult and his/her attachment figure, determined in terms of the two dimensions (models of the self and of others), and the level of dependency and closeness established between them (i.e., adult and the attachment figure) (Bartholomew and Shaver, 1998:31-2):
Secure- internalized sense of self-worth and are comfortable with intimacy in close relationships;
Preoccupied- anxiously seek to gain acceptance and validation from others, seeming to persist in the belief that they could attain safety, or security, if they could only get others to respond properly toward them;
Fearful- highly dependent on others' acceptance and affirmation; however, because of their negative expectations, they avoid intimacy to avert the pain of loss or rejection; and Dismissing- avoid closeness because of negative expectations; however, they maintain a sense of self-worth by defensively denying the value of close relationships.
Given these categories of adult attachment, Bartholomew and Horowitz attempted to create general model or "representation" of adult attachment. The theorists are somewhat similar to Ainsworth's role in helping Bowlby develop the traditional or classic adult attachment theory. While Ainsworth conducted research studies to strengthen Bowlby's theory and ethology, Bartholomew and Horowitz are modern theorists whose aim is to develop a more developed, evidence-based, and updated general theory and model of adult attachment. Hence, they based their 2-dimension, 4-category model of adult attachment on Bowlby's ethology and supported the model's basic assumptions through quantitative research studies proving that indeed, there are different kinds of adult attachment.
III. Grief, Attachment Style, and Attachment Theory
In the previous chapter, the concept of secure attachment, separation anxiety, and emotion regulation after a loss or separation from a loved one, significant other or attachment figure are discussed in the context of Bowlby and Ainsworth's attachment theory. In this chapter, attachment theory will be expanded to include another concept that specifically deals with the issue of grieving and bereavement: Continuing Bonds. The theory of continuing bonds is an extension of attachment per se, as it posits that in the event that a person loses or gets separated from a loved one or attachment figure, the kind of relationship s/he had with the attachment figure determines the behavior that s/he would adopt and be manifested as the 'continuing bond' between these people.
Continuing bonds for Bowlby (although he did not used the term per se) starts with the "pain of grief," a concept that is only determined at the beginning of the bereavement process. Bowlby specifically identifies grief and mourning into four phases: numbness, yearning and protest, disorganization and despair, and lastly, reorganization (Packman et. al., 2006:821). As an individual goes through these phases, the individual will also experience a "persistence of the relationship" that s/he previously had with the lost/separated attachment figure. This is, in Bowlby's terms, the 'continuing bonds' that continues to bind the individual to the other person, either in a positive/healthy or negative/unhealthy way (Bonanno and Kalman, 1999:764).
Klass, Silverman and Nickman, proponents of the Continuing Bonds theory, helped evolve Bowlby's concept of "persistent relationship." For them, continuing bonds function in the individual as a "reorganization" sub-process that they must be able to acknowledge and cope with. Ultimately, the authors consider continuing bonds as a facilitative component wherein people will be able to find "solace, comfort and support" in these bonds, 'easing the transition from the past to the future' (765).
Interestingly, grief and bereavement studies applying the continuing bonds theory have shown the same psychopathological perspective that Bowlby had adopted in establishing the attachment theory. In these studies, continuing bonds was indeed a facilitative component, a functional process that individuals must utilize to survive the ordeal they are going through. Without the continuing bonds -- that is, the idea that the memory of the individual lives on in spirit -- people would not have anything to hold on to in their lives after a loss or separation of a loved one/attachment figure, and therefore coping would not be as manageable as it would have been with the continuing bonds (Davies, 2004:509-510).
Similarly, Bartholomew and Horowitz' study of the different categories of adult attachment provide support evidence on the different kinds…