What does a hole in your chest have to do with attachment?

Psychoanalysis has attempted to put forward answers to this particular question for decades. The contemporary psychoanalytic attachment theories of  Paul Verhaeghe and Peter Fonagy throw up interesting perspectives, but to discuss this one has to touch on the pioneering literature on attachment.

Take Balint’s ‘basic fault’, this describes an experience felt by some that something universal and essential is missing inside. He theorises that it stems from a ‘failure of fit’ between a babies needs and the primary caregivers responsivity to these cues (crying, smiling, yawning, etc). Winnicott and Balint both stress the importance of a holding environment (a secure, safe and loving environment where emotions can be safely expressed in a reliable and trustworthy relationship) without which there may be an experience of an internal/external black hole.

If there is a ‘failure of fit’ and the child is unable to form a secure attachment it sets the child up for a higher risk of suffering in later life, as Winnicott states in one of his earliest works:

‘I find it useful to divide the world of people into two classes. There are those who were never ‘let down’ as babies and who are to that extent candidates for the enjoyment of life and of living. There are also those who did suffer traumatic experiences of the kind that result from environmental letdown, and who must carry with them all their lives the memories of the state they were in at moments of disaster. These are candidates for lives of storm and stress and perhaps illness.’

We know that around 60% of people have a secure attachment style. Does that mean 40% of us are walking around with a painfully empty chasm in our chest, feeling not quite ‘real’ inside and desperately trying to fill our lack?  Or is this phenomena to a lesser extent an intrinsic part of being a human subject?



22 thoughts on “What does a hole in your chest have to do with attachment?

  1. Being an orphan I always felt a void in my life. I would get attached to those who were kind to me. I didn’t know that some of those had their own purposes. Because of this I don’t become friends easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know maybe I’m naive, but I believe we are all responsible for our own happiness and that we get to choose each day if we want to be happy or not that day, regardless of what is going on. It’s a matter of choice and it’s our own choice.


  3. @KenHanson asked me about sehnsuch:

    “(a) utopian conceptions of ideal development; (b) sense of incompleteness and imperfection of life; (c) conjoint time focus on the past, present, and future; (d) ambivalent (bittersweet) emotions; (e) reflection and evaluation of one’s life; and (f) symbolic richness.”

    Before I accidentally deleted the post.

    Thanks Ken! I will have to do a post about this now. Its interesting.


  4. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    I haven’t felt this hole for many years but knew it very well before I met my husband and had our kids….and the dogs! Thought some of you might appreciate this. xx Rowena


  5. Reblogged this on JackCollier7 and commented:
    It shocked me to learn that being in an icubator when I was a baby could have adversely affected my whole life. I wonder how many of us are carrying around dark demons from our childhood?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s