Attached – A Book Review

Attached.  The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love.  By Amir Levine, MD, and Rachel S.F. Heller, MA

I found reading Attached to be a tasty experience.  So tasty in fact, that I read it again before putting it down.  It was very much like eating a cookie.  I raced through, devouring each crumb, excited to have found a book on attachment so easy to read; that the authors so clearly had researched and taken due diligence to present.  I learned a great deal while reading it, not just enjoying each nibble, the richness of its texture and balance by myself, but I also shared and reflected with other people – therapist friends and relatives who were reading it alongside me.  How exciting to see such a phenomenon as attachment come so fully onto the public stage in such a palatable form as this!  And by the time I had read it twice, I felt myself changed somehow. 

Since I am a psychotherapist, I found that Attached gave me heart, and a good many angles through which to enter the topic of relationships and help my clients move toward deeper intimacy and satisfaction in theirs.  Equipped with these tools and this knowledge it is easier to emerge from past failures with a sense of hopefulness and courage to try again.

I have always been intensely interested in relationships.  Long before I became a social worker or a psychotherapist I was devouring literature on intimacy and connection.  And as a person who has failed at relationships enough times to write ten books, I am especially grateful for Levine and Heller’s book.  I believe that it provided exactly the right ingredients and precisely the right texture and crunch.  I no longer identify as one of those poor, insecurely attached blokes who are not relationship material.

After finishing Attached for the second time and taking a separate, two-week webinar on attachment with my sister, and beginning to follow another phenomenal relationship, intimacy and dating expert, Ken Page, I can now say, with some certainty, that I am not as dysfunctional or broken as I previously thought.  In fact, I might even go so far as to say that I have a predominantly secure attachment style.  And yes, I was missing the cues that could have saved me so much time and heartache, had I come across this book decades ago.

What I’d like readers to know is that if they’ve failed at relationships, it may not be because they are jerks or incapable of empathy or are somehow broken.  It’s because they are still acquiring the basic skills to recognize a healthy, life-affirming relationship and what it actually feels like to be in one.

The thing I find missing in virtually all of the popular approaches on dating and intimacy is the concept of the emotional flashback, which should not be confused with attachment style, though does contribute to many of the behaviors this book talks about.

As you learn and grow and partake of the popular literature, make sure that you don’t over-identify as an avoidant or ambivalent or disorganized person.  What happens to me, and it may happen to you too, is that the prospect of new love, and the hope of connecting deeply is so moving and so tantalizing that I can lose my balance if I am not adequately caring for myself and tending to my important needs.  Intimacy serves as a portal into our deepest wounds, for better or worse, and as we become more mature connoisseurs of sweets, we gain important tools and discernment about which desserts leave us with a belly ache and which ones actually leave us feeling stronger, more ourselves and deeply, truly satisfied.

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