Books for Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style
February 24, 2011 1:41 AM   Subscribe

What books will help me fix my anxious-preoccupied attachment style?

While reading another MeFi answer, I came upon the description of anxious-preoccupied attachment style.

This describes me very well. If I'm expecting a phone call or email, and it doesn't arrive, I will check every few minutes, becoming increasingly anxious and imagining revenge. In romantic relationships, I get bursts of feeling insufficiently loved.

I am talking to a therapist, but what books can you recommend that address this issue? I did an Amazon search, but I trust MeFi more than amazon star ratings!
posted by cheesecake to Human Relations (6 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Authors of Attached relayed: "you are only as needy as your needs are not met." That said, research-based (contrary to popular writings of "dating experts") books will tell you to not fix your attachment style. You will be encouraged to consciously reassess conflict situations, develop your negotiation skills - sure. My reco goes for Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix.
posted by Jurate at 2:52 AM on February 24, 2011

Best answer: Hello, fellow anxious-preoccupied person! I stumbled across a university website describing adult attachment styles, oh, maybe four years ago, and since then I've done a lot of reading about attachment theory and bought a lot of books, so I can make some personal recommendations. I've seen very few self-help type books centered around attachment theory, but what's exciting is that it's a growing field of research and a lot of new stuff is being written right now. In fact, here's a book published only two months ago that might be exactly what you want, so I'd recommend it sight unseen:

Attached, Amir Levine, Rachel Heller

All of the books below I've purchased and at least skimmed, and found them relevant to dealing with anxious or preoccupied attachment. What I've concluded from them is that your eventual goal is to experience a securely attached relationship, which might first happen with a therapist. In a secure relationship, you experience the other person as a "safe base from which to explore," meaning that you can trust them to be there for you when you really need them. And once you're regained your balance, you are free to return to pursuing your various life goals, safe in the knowledge that your secure base will be there for you when you need it again. Eventually, the remembered experience of that secure relationship may be enough to comfort you in times when the actual person isn't available.


Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson
A General Theory of Love
, Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard Lannon

These books only touch on ideas related to attachment, but I found them helpful in understanding how we might become stuck in anxious-preoccupied patterns of relating to others.


Becoming Attached, Robert Karen
Attachment in Psychotherapy, David J. Wallin
Attachment in Adulthood, Mario Mikulincer, Phillip R. Shaver
A Secure Base, John Bowlby

If you're interested in digging deeper, the first two books provide a really good survey of the development and history of attachment theory, as well as accessible descriptions of the basic concepts. Attachment in Adulthood is fairly clinical but has a good description of how attachment behavior is activated, including a very interesting flow chart in Figure 2-1. The last book is a series of lectures by John Bowlby, who along with Mary Ainsworth founded the field of attachment theory.


The Developing Mind, Daniel J. Siegel
The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life
, Daniel N. Stern
The Transforming Power Of Affect, Diana Fosha

I'm not necessarily recommending these books (although I think they're all very good), as they are directed at clinicians and therapists, and are not about attachment theory per se. But they deal with the ideas of attunement, responsiveness, and mindfulness in the way two people experience a relationship, which I consider important concepts because I think a securely attached relationship is dependent on these qualities being present.

Happy reading and good luck!
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2011 [24 favorites]

Fellow anxious-preoccupied attachers unite! I was wondering this same thing, as it's time for me to tackle this personal mess of mine and get straightened out once and for all. I'll check these out and will keep an eye on this thread for more info.
posted by MultiFaceted at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2011

Response by poster: Dixon Ticonderoga, I just finished reading "Attached" at your suggestion. It is exactly what I was looking for. Many chapters in the book are very validating, and give me concrete steps for improving my communication. Thank you.
posted by cheesecake at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2011

cheesecake, that's great! And based on your recommendation, I think I will now check it out myself. :)
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 4:29 PM on February 27, 2011

Thank you for asking this question.
posted by OwlBoy at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

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