Sunday, November 04, 2012

Earned Autonomy: Reshaping the Past


We now have some evidence that parents' capabilities for attachment to an infant begin to take shape in their own childhoods. ... The empathy and care each parent received as well as the assistance they experienced in articulating and understanding their inner worlds will influence future parenting abilities. ...
Because attachment schemas are part of implicit memory, this level of care taking occurs automatically and connects our unconscious childhood experiences across the generations. ... Interestingly, negative events in the childhood are not necessarily predictive of an insecure or disorganized attachment schema or future parenting style. Working through, processing, and integrating early experiences, and constructing coherent narratives, are more accurate predictors of a parent's ability to be a safe haven for his or her children. This earned autonomy, through the healing of childhood wounds, appears to interrupt the transmission of negative attachment patterns from one generation to the next.
... [Autonomous parents] are able to access and connect cognitive and emotional functioning in a constructive and useful manner. They do not appear to be suffering the effects of unresolved trauma or dissociative defenses and have attained a high degree of affect regulation ... They are able to remember and make sense of their own childhoods and are available to their children both verbally and emotionally. ... ---pp.204-205, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy

Reading the chapter that contains the above quote, I am beginning to see that one way therapy works, or one way of us reshaping our pasts, is to develop a coherent narrative of our past.

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