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Based on attachment theory and decades of research on attachment processes and relationships, this chapter shows that attachment security, experienced in relationships with sensitive and responsive parents and partners across the life span, fosters positive attitudes toward both self and others, and also provides a foundation for desirable psychological states discussed in the Buddhist literature: mindfulness, self-compassion, and nonattachment. We review research involving children, adolescents, and adults showing that the major forms of attachment insecurity—anxiety and avoidance—interfere with healthy self-approval and self-acceptance, and also with kindness and generosity toward others. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are not “egoistic” in the negative sense; far from being psychologically and socially destructive, they are foundations of openness and kindness toward others. The usual origin of attachment-related security is supportive relationships in childhood, but security can also be increased by later relationships and by laboratory and clinical interventions.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Book Chapter

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