Learned maladaptive attachment tendencies as well as trauma related tendencies are interconnected experiences that influence each other, resulting in real or perceived threat to safety and or existence. Defences to which can be loosely categorized into three systems in order to preserve survival. The first, is relational seeking actions, the second is mobilizing defences that organize overt action, and the third, are immobilizing defences, that in gender a lack of physical action.
Relation seeking actions are to do with behaviours relating to the need for an attachment cry when feeling distressed in times of stress and threat. Mobilizing defences are when escape seems to be possible, which is to do with running away from danger or running towards safety, meaning that there are automatic movements executed within the thought pattern in the event of a potential threat, such as putting your food on the plate even though you are not hungry. Immobilizing defences are to do with passive avoidance such as passively eating which is a survival strategy. There are three types of immobilizing defences.
The first is a freeze response which is an alert immobility, the second is a death response which is a floppy immobility, and the third response is submissive behaviour. These defensive strategies are intended to increase safety and increase survival, yet become liabilities when used frequently and automatically. Reminders of past trauma become indicators of current danger, which sets up your defensive systems which, become default behaviours. Habitual engagement of the defences of fight, flight, and relationship seeking actions impair adaptive functioning. When an attachment relationship has induced negative emotions and negative thoughts, physical tendencies also ensue and it means that physical tendencies will reinforce chronic negative emotions and cognitive distortions.
Individuals who are securely attached demonstrate the ability to ask for and use help when they are overwhelmed, and use regulatory strategies and centring. Individuals with insecurities and avoidance attachment histories have a tendency to avoid others when stressed, becoming dis-regulated and pushing away support. Others with avoidant histories have the feeling that no one will respond and have a lack of vitality. Those with insecure ambivalent histories have clinging behaviour, increased affect, and bodily agitation at the threat of separation. Those with unresolved attachment trauma are torn between the secure relationship and their profound fear of it.
What is really interesting is, that both trauma and attachment related physical tendencies are influenced by emotions. Posture and other movements on experience, interpretation and expression of emotion are determinants of resulting emotion. When the spine is slumped, individuals have a tendency to feel less proud as apposed to when the spine is upright and in an erect posture, and those that have a posture and facial expression associated with sadness, happiness or anger, are more likely to recall events that contain a similar emotional balance.
So, it is important to recognize that gestures, facial expression, and posture are not only reflections of emotion but are also indicative of interpretation of personal experience. As such, the way we hold our body is indicative of how we feel, which paves the way for particular positive emotions, which in turn motivates positive physical action.
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