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Ghost Attachment Styles

Attachment styles illustrated as ghosts. To learn more about attachment styles and how the way we tend to relate to others can be plotted on a spectrum, click here.

Attachment styles as ghosts. Doodle by Lindsay Braman.

For a brief insight into each of these ghosts and how they go about haunting, continue reading:

Doodle of a preoccupied attachment as a ghost. The ghost is interrupting a person's shower and is saying,  "Let me haunt you all the time!"

Preoccupied Attachment Style

Preoccupied attachment, also referred to as anxious or ambivalent attachment, in an attachment style low inreplationship-avoidance and high in relational anxiety. 

A person with a preoccupied attachment may be drawn into relationships and desire intimacy, but has a lot of anxiety about those relationships.

This attachment style is often the result of inconsistent relationships between caregiver and child in a person’s childhood. People with preoccupied attachment styles may not have had their needs met consistently during childhood. People who grow up in homes with parents who aren’t available consistently (due to their own mental health symptoms, incarceration, illness, or even big distractions like poverty, burnout, or having many children to tend) may develop a preoccupied attachment style. Because children look to their early relationships with adults to mak-meaning and set norms, inconsistency can result in a lack of understanding regarding how to maintain closeness in later adult relationships. 

For people with preoccupied attachment- and this anxious little ghost- there is almost a chasing of sorts – desperate seeking to find closeness, but not knowing how to sustain that closeness in a healthy way. 

Hence, the ghost friend invades personal space to be with the person they are haunting because they do not know how to haunt in a healthy way that respects the needs on both sides of the relationship.

Doodle of an avoidant attachment as a ghost. The ghost is sitting in a chair saying, "It's fine. I don't need to haunt you. I'll just be over here if you want to be haunted."

Avoidant Attachment Style

The avoidant attachment style, also known as dismissing-avoidant attachment, has low relational anxiety and high relational avoidance. A person who has dismissing-avoidant attachment style may have an overall low anxiety about relationships but a general avoidance of close relationships. 

Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style may also tend to have better self-esteem than those with fearful-avoidant attachment style, as the dismissive-avoidant is motivated by a “why bother, why risk” avoidance of intimacy instead of a “why bother, I’m not worth it” belief.

This attachment style may form in childhood when caregivers are physically present, but emotionally absent. While they are not neglecting a child’s physical needs – clothing, food, water, shelter, etc. – they are not cultivating emotional engagement. In fact, caregivers in this attachment style may emotionally withdraw even more as a situation becomes more emotionally intense. 

Think: reaching out for support or comfort from a caregiver, and the caregiver responding with a “toughen up, get over it, that’s not a big deal” response. This creates a dynamic of wanting care and comfort, but avoiding reaching out for it in order to avoid disappointment. 

Hence, our ghost friend who wants to haunt the person, but remains in their chair simply waiting for the attention of the person they want to haunt.

Doodle of a secure attachment as a ghost. Ghost is following someone as they run and is saying "I suppose I could ask if she's cool being haunted right now, but I support her other interests and I know she'll be around for me to haunt later."

Secure Attachment Style

Secure attachment is marked by low relational avoidance and low relational anxiety. 

A child develops secure attachment with their caregivers when the caregivers provide a sense of safety, attunement, comfort,and support. This type of caregiver is consistent in their responses (not perfect! But tuned in and responsive most of the time), which allows a child to build a foundation for understanding relationships and balancing boundaries and closeness.

Hence, our secure attachment ghost friend who wants to haunt the person, but recognizes their haunting partner is busy doing something they love and trusts that they’ll be available later.

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Image description for screen readers:
There are three doodles in this Ghost Attachment Style series. 

The first doodle is a drawing of a grey and white brick shower with two soap bottles on the floor. There is a ghost in the forefront of the drawing who has an anxious expression and is saying, “Let me haunt you ALL THE TIME!!” Behind the ghost is a person who is scared and wrapped up in the shower curtain. The doodle has a yellow banner across it that reads, “Preoccupied.”

The second doodle is a drawing of a living room with brown patterned floors and an off white wall color. There are two pictures hanging on the right side of the wall, one is of a smiling rainbow and the other is of a dark rain cloud. On the left side of the doodle is a brown side table with a black lamp that is glowing and a pink salt lamp on it. In the middle of the drawing is a ghost sitting in an armchair with a flat affect who is saying, “It’s fine. I don’t need to haunt you. I’ll just be over here if you want to be haunted.” The doodle has a yellow banner across it that reads, “Avoidant.”

The third doodle is of an outdoor scene, with blue skies, grey ground, and green trees in the foreground. In the right side of the drawing, there is a person running who has dark hair pulled into a ponytail, and is wearing a red tank top with white shorts. There is a ghost to the left side of the drawing with a happy expression who is saying, “I  suppose I could ask if she’s cool being haunted right now, but I support her other interests and I know she’ll be around for me to haunt later.” The doodle has a yellow banner across it that reads, “Secure.”

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antonia griffiths

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Hi Lindsay, I love your drawings. Would I be able to use these on social media for the charity I work for? We are called Foundation for Change, based in London, and we run a psychology course for people with a history of addiction. we have a whole day on attachment and these would be perfect.

Lindsay Braman, MACP, LMHCA

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Hi Antonia! Thanks for your kind words about my art. My repost policy should tell you everything you need to know about sharing my art on social media, or you can click here to learn more about licensing my art for republishing on websites, and if you have questions please feel free to reach out via the contact form.