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Childhood Attachment and Adult Anxiety


The relationship between childhood attachment and adult anxiety is an essential aspect to analyze due to the many negative implications for physical and psychological health. The formation of specific behavioral habits at an early age is a factor affecting further cognitive development, and certain aspects of parenting increase the likelihood of disorders in children. In particular, through a literature review, the causes and negative aspects of childhood attachment are revealed, and the impact of this phenomenon on adulthood and is assessed. As a justification base, relevant and credible scholarly studies are applied. Negative parenting patterns, including the lack of attention from adults and neglecting children’s interests, are considered in terms of the key premises of psychological problems in adulthood. On this basis, emotional neglect and attachment are used as independent variables for research, and adult anxiety is utilized as a dependent one. The research question implies assessing the relationship between these variables, and the hypothesis is based on the confirmed effect of childhood attachment on adult anxiety and associated psychological disorders.

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Problem Statement

Childhood attachment can be the result of severe psychological impairments in adulthood, and parenting aspects are largely those factors that stimulate specific disorders. According to Corcoran and McNulty (2018), parental neglect is a driver of emotional development difficulties in children, and the lack of attention is fraught with anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems in the future. This problem is of high importance due to the likelihood of disorders in those adults who experienced abuse, neglect, or excessive attachment in childhood. Corcoran and McNulty (2018) state that attachment has a significant impact on the formation of behavioral habits and is a direct factor associated with adults’ psychological distress. There are numerous academic studies on this topic, but understanding the problem is an essential aspect not only from a scholarly but also from a parental perspective. The analysis of relevant literature will be carried out, and the key prerequisites and consequences of adult anxiety will be considered through the prism of childhood attachment and emotional neglect. The relationship between childhood emotional trauma and the lack of attention will be analyzed in the context of the manifestations of psychological disorders in adulthood.

Literature Review

The analysis of academic literature on the proposed topic makes it possible to find unique ideas regarding the issue in question and draw conclusions about the key premises and manifestations of the problem. Simard, Moss, and Pascuzzo (2011) examine attachment styles and assess the potential causes of psychological disorders. The 15-year study follows the four attachment styles and determines reflective adult anxiety propensity (Simard et al., 2011). The authors use a group sample to determine how individual maladaptive patterns affect specific attachment patterns in children and adults (Simard et al., 2011). This approach provides detailed data on which drivers have the greatest impact on personal distress and which maladaptive aspects determine anxiety and other disorders in adulthood. The results of the study show that if a child experiences unmet needs, in the future, there is a high probability that his or her emotional perception will be disturbed (Simard et al., 2011). This outcome confirms the idea of ​​the importance of parental involvement in children’s lives and will be considered in the research paper.

Another study conducted by Intrieri and Margentina (2019) aims to describe the relationship between attachment in childhood and anxiety in adulthood. The authors make an assumption that the role of anxiety seems to be determined by the type of attachment developed during childhood (Intrieri & Margentina, 2019). This argument is based on the application of the model of four categories determining the degree of attachment. The negative perception of the environment, which is formed in childhood, leaves an imprint on adulthood and may be expressed in anxiety, panic symptoms, and depressive conditions. As Intrieri and Margentina (2019) argue, attachment features are not always the key drivers for the development of psychological disorders, but such parental gaps as neglect and emotional distance are stimuli for anxiety in adulthood. As a result, adults’ responsibility is viewed as a crucial aspect of a child’s psychophysical development and social adaptation, and this nuance will be taken into account in the proposed research.

Individual scholarly studies are devoted to assessing child attachment from the positive and negative sides. For instance, Rees (2007) analyzes this phenomenon in the context of healthy and unhealthy implications and notes a positive relationship between attachment and early childhood emotional regulation. However, as he or she grows up, a child adapts to society and should show more independence. Rees (2007) calls behavior unhealthy if children cannot overcome the boundaries of attachment and argues that a sharp violation of usual communication principles is fraught with stress and anxiety in older age. Schimmenti and Bifulco (2015) also assess psychological disorders caused by negative childhood experiences, but they focus on the lack of parental care as the reason for impairments. The authors note that antipathy and emotional neglect are dangerous factors that are fraught with the deviant perception of the environment in adulthood (Schimmenti & Bifulco, 2015). Thus, all the aforementioned researchers agree that negative parenting patterns and excessive attachment are drivers for the development of psychological disorders and anxiety.

Proposed Research Question and Hypothesis

To conduct credible and unbiased research, the relevant question will be posted as a background to work. It will be as follows: are excessive childhood attachment and the lack of parental care prerequisites for the development of anxiety and other psychological disorders in adulthood? As independent variables, the indicators of healthy and unhealthy attachment will be used, as well as the parameters of emotional neglect. Adult anxiety will be a dependent variable, and as additional criteria, psychological disorders can be assessed, for instance, stress and depression. Attachment indicators will be examined by comparing the information from the selected sample based on the data obtained through surveys of the target audience. To test the key dependent variable, digital correlations will be applied to identify specific implications in a statistical ratio. The research hypothesis will be as follows: excessive childhood attachment and parents’ emotional neglect are prerequisites for adult anxiety and psychological disorders, including stress and depression.


Corcoran, M., & McNulty, M. (2018). Examining the role of attachment in the relationship between childhood adversity, psychological distress and subjective well-being. Child Abuse & Neglect, 76, 297-309. Web.

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Intrieri, R. C., & Margentina, S. J. (2019). Attachment and its relationship to anxiety sensitivity. Current Psychology, 38(1), 213-227. Web.

Rees, C. (2007). Childhood attachment. British Journal of General Practice, 57(544), 920-922. Web.

Schimmenti, A., & Bifulco, A. (2015). Linking lack of care in childhood to anxiety disorders in emerging adulthood: The role of attachment styles. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20(1), 41-48. Web.

Simard, V., Moss, E., & Pascuzzo, K. (2011). Early maladaptive schemas and child and adult attachment: A 15‐year longitudinal study. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 84(4), 349-366. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Childhood Attachment and Adult Anxiety'. 8 January.

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