Do the terms RAD and Attachment Disorder mean anything to you?

With so much time and attention given to adoption-studies and the new-age labeling of RAD given to adopted children, I think it's only natural for adult adoptees to seek new information relating to a disorder that focuses on an adoptee's ability/difficulty achieving fulfillment and security through close personal  relationships.

Every "updated" RAD page I read refers to the same information:

The prevalence of RAD is unclear but it is probably quite rare, other than in populations of children being reared in the most extreme, deprived settings such as some orphanages.[53]

Attachment disorders tend to occur in a definable set of contexts such as within some types of institutions, in the presence of repeated changes of primary caregiver or of extremely neglectful identifiable primary caregivers who show persistent disregard for the child's basic attachment needs, but not all children raised in these conditions develop an attachment disorder.[57] Studies undertaken on children from Eastern European orphanages from the mid-1990s showed significantly higher levels of both forms of RAD and of insecure patterns of attachment in the institutionalized children, regardless of how long they had been there.[58][59][60] It would appear that children in institutions like these are unable to form selective attachments to their caregivers. The difference between the institutionalized children and the control group had lessened in the follow-up study three years later, although the institutionalized children continued to show significantly higher levels of indiscriminate friendliness.[58][61] However, even among children raised in the most deprived institutional conditions the majority did not show symptoms of this disorder.[62]

Again, orphanages are "the cause", and yet no where is abuse after child-placement mentioned in any of the studies "focused on a child's emotional needs".  What does this all mean for the child who got damaged by abusive adoptive/foster parents?

[I am the first to admit I have very severe reactions to those who try to get "too close" to me.  I am predictable only in the sense that I'm unpredictable.]

Since no in-depth study on the abused adoptee has been done, I'm curious to learn how adults from abusive foster/adoption situations relate to the following list of attachment-styles outlined in wikipedia's Attachment for Adults page, which is based on Bowlby's theories and models:

Secure attachment

Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: "It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don't worry about being alone or having others not accept me." This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with relationship partners. Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their partners. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships. Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles. Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence. Many seek to balance intimacy and independence in their relationships.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment

People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don't value me as much as I value them." People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their partners. They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on their partners—a condition colloquially termed clinginess. Compared to securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves. They often doubt their worth as a partner and blame themselves for their partners' lack of responsiveness. They also have less positive views about their partners because they do not trust in people's good intentions. People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may experience high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.

Dismissive-avoidant attachment

People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships. It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient, and I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me." People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with relationship partners, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (i.e., their relationship partners).


Fearful-avoidant attachment

People with a fearful style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others." People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships. On the one hand, they desire to have emotionally close relationships. On the other hand, they tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness. These mixed feelings are combined with negative views about themselves and their partners. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their partners, and they don't trust the intentions of their partners. Similarly to the dismissive-avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from partners and frequently suppress and hide their feelings.

In addition, how many relate to the following symptoms outlined for the child with RAD?

Inhibited type
In inhibited reactive attachment disorder, children shun relationships and attachments to virtually everyone. This may happen when a baby never has the chance to develop an attachment to any caregiver.

Signs and symptoms of the inhibited type may include:

  • Resisting affection from parents or caregivers
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Appearing to seek contact but then turning away
  • Difficulty being comforted
  • Preferring to play alone
  • Avoiding physical contact
  • Failing to initiate contact with others
  • Appearing to be on guard or wary
  • Engaging in self-soothing behavior

Disinhibited type
In disinhibited reactive attachment disorder, children form inappropriate and shallow attachments to virtually everyone, including strangers. This may happen when a baby has multiple caregivers or frequent changes in caregivers.

Signs and symptoms of the disinhibited type may include:

  • Readily going to strangers, rather than showing stranger anxiety
  • Seeking comfort from strangers
  • Exaggerating needs for help doing tasks
  • Inappropriately childish behavior
  • Appearing anxious





more layers

Atachment for Adults - Dismissive / Avoidant

RAD - Inhibited type.

crap - i haven't really paid attention to RAD.  i thought it was mostly the children out of control testing everyone's love all the time.

this explains why even as a child i said

i love humanity - i just hate people

I get so pissed off that i appear fine but lack social skills, that people can grow to know and respect and even love me but ultimately reject me because they think i'm damaged.
it wasn't me that did the damage - reject what did the damage and love what's broken. 

but people want something as good or better than themselves - and not something broke down

which all just proves to me that i was right as a child...

[Laughing at the sad insanity of it all!]

I have often been known to say I hate everyone, only to be found helping those I fear or loathe most.  [The RAD in me is more about resentment , rejection and the anger "duty to others" brings me.]

For myself, I know trust is my biggest issue.  It's an act of submission I don't like to take.  I have learned more often than not, people prove to me their words and actions, (like "love" and "duty"), mean nothing in terms of truth or consistency. 

My struggle is wanting and needing the very things I hate and fear.  Sometimes I can be brave, and indulge in some selfish behaviors, (because it's healthy to take care of yourself), but mostly I resent the confusion I feel over the terms "self love" and "entitlement".  These words bring very strong trigger-reactions/associations that leave me feeling very isolated, alone and angry. [Lonely jealous rage better describes my feelings towards "selfish behavior"., and yet more than anything, I wish I saw myself worthy of a little selfishness.]  So... I see myself fitting within all the poorly-attached examples outlined in the above section.

Over the years, I know I have grown to accept a sense of loneliness will always exist in my personal relationships... but I'm wondering if that's an acceptable way to keep living.

The only example of "pure love" and secure attachment I have found so far is within the relationship I have with my children, but my role is more about duty and dedication than feeling or emotion.  [I have very mangled emotions!] The truth is, it hurts very much to give what was never given to me, and this is a hardship that doesn't seem to go away, no matter how hard I try not to let myself think about it.





As an adult with RAD, I have to agree with Kerry's mangled emotions of duty and devotion; which makes me an even
worse adoptive mom....  I struggle with these definitions of attachment, taking some from each category. 
Only recently have I felt worthy of what I never received from my mother, and by not receiving it, it makes my attachment
to my adopted children (some who have RAD) so important; being able to show them they are worthy. 
I used to say that I have no use for people: give me a book and leave me alone; which led to my not reaching out for
help soon enough for my 13 year old. 
It seems to me, the ones who are left, in the home of my family share some of the same attachment problems:  fear of more pain, no self worth, holding back, and trust issues.  The rest just turned around and walked away...
"Lonely Jealous Rage"  reminds me that I am always saying, "WHY are they (anyone) worthy and loved? Why not me?"
My 71 year old friend is getting married.  I cried; not because I wanted him, but because someone wanted him and no one
seems to want me.  I could have had him, but could not want him. 
I, too, give and give what was not given to me.  And if I feel the least little bit of (most of the time) nothing in return, then I am in a world of pain!  My kids give so much, but people give so little and take so much.... and then I hate myself for feeling that duty to others. 
I trust so little, but every speck of trust is guarded, with the seeking for the betrayal right behind it.  Sometimes I think I
just ask people to betray me and prove how unworthy I really am.

One Step Up From Bottom,

"Sometimes I think I just

"Sometimes I think I
just ask people to betray me and prove how unworthy I really am." This is a very chilling statement as it describes perfectly how lately I've been suspecting myself of "asking for it". I show a mix of these attachment disorders. I learned young that you never really know if you can trust someone so its best to only rely on yourself. I often feel extreme highs and lows, being an extreme headstrong narcissist on moment and feeling like a genetic mistake the next. I often feel strange in my relationship with my boyfriend of 2yrs. I can't seem to initiated affection and he is someone who needs a lot of touching and sweet talk. He is my first boyfriend I met when I was 19. I didn't date because I've never known how to flirt, I think it's embarrassing and ugly, and always figured if someone like me for me, have at it, I'm patient. He often asks me how I'm feeling and I often find myself telling white lies (I hate lying and liars, since childhood, but I almost ALWAYS lie about how I'm feeling). I found out he had been looking at porn behind my back and (we had agreed we didn't want each other doing that)... I can't say I'm the same person I was before I found out. I felt like i spontaneously combusted and my spirit was watching this dumb girl trying put the pieces back together. I've watched porn since I was about two, my mom would even record it for me sometimes if I were at school. In all my years I never thought I would react the way I did. I've never made a person cry like that, especially a big handsome man. I had trust issues before but now sometimes my distrust goes so far I sometimes consider, amongst many things, he has the capacity to murder me. I not only distrust him, I disrespect him. I disrespect all men simply because of the way their brains work. I look down on them as though they are not human, or "mentally challenged". I can't stand them in a genocide kind of way.I used to be quite the opposite. Sometimes I want to get closer to my bf, but do not want to fight for a lost cause, which is my view on relationships. "The people who are happy in relationships must be dumb, and I wouldn't want to think like them anyway, they settle for much less", I know this isn't in realty true, but I can't convince myself otherwise. I find myself prying through his things, and I'm almost, ALMOST, disappointed when I find nothing. I am always looking for ways to prove I am right and that he IS a self satisfying monster pig who actually does not love like he claims to love. I want to trust him, but my mind cannot compute as to why I should. Him or anyone else at that. Often I wish I'd decided to become a nun.

Out of my own mind, too

I look down on them as though they are not human, or "mentally challenged". I can't stand them in a genocide kind of way.I used to be quite the opposite. Sometimes I want to get closer to my bf, but do not want to fight for a lost cause, which is my view on relationships. "The people who are happy in relationships must be dumb, and I wouldn't want to think like them anyway, they settle for much less", I know this isn't in realty true, but I can't convince myself otherwise. I find myself prying through his things, and I'm almost, ALMOST, disappointed when I find nothing. I am always looking for ways to prove I am right and that he IS a self satisfying monster pig who actually does not love like he claims to love. I want to trust him, but my mind cannot compute as to why I should. Him or anyone else at that.

I felt this way about women, too; consequentially, that inability to like or trust anyone - male or female - made me feel like the ultimate misfit alien loser.  And so, I too would tell "white lies".  I would provide answers that were wanted, expected, or required, but never would I reveal what I really thought or felt.

After so many years of doing this, I learned, slowly, there's a price that goes with self-protection.

Sure, we can protect ourselves from getting hurt, but at the same time, we prevent ourselves from living a real whole life, too.

I admit, it took a very long time for something inside of me to click.  Call it anger.  Call it frustration... I don't know what it was, but it.. this something, this drive... was so vehement, so strong, the essence inside basically said, "I'll be fucking damned if I let Them take my chance at a decent life, too".  Once I realized what I had to do for myself, I realized I meant my "Fuck THEM" attitude, too.  [This, BTW, was a whole new and different fuck-you mind-set, because where in the past,  I would have said F.U. to EVERYONE, I was learning, ever so slowly, only certain types of people required that "stay away" attitude from me.]  

This is where I have to add, in spite of my use of vulgar language, I do have a strong sense of spiritual wellness, and a good grasp on what's right and what's wrong. I think spending so much time reading the Bible (back when I was little) helped me develop a sense of faith and hope outside myself and my surroundings.  For instance, because I read about God, I grew to believe in, and count on a phantom father-figure to watch-over and help guide me, even if/when so many people were messing with my body and my head.  With that, I grew to believe God, in some sort of strange way, will bring certain people in our life at certain times, so a life-lesson can be learned, and a greater good could be found.  One of the on-going mantras I have always kept for myself is, "There is a reason and purpose for this".  All too often the situations I found myself in really sucked, but that mantra helped, when nothing else could or would.

If the current BF you are with now crossed a line, and brought you angst and stress, maybe the lesson is to keep trying.... maybe not with him, per se, but with someone else.. someone who will respect the boundaries you set for yourself.  [I know I myself would have HUGE trust-issues with the guy, and in-turn, that would force me to find someone else because the use of porn, as a solitary habit, is a super duper kill the f'n bastard trigger for me... especially if the user is in a relationship with me, and the porn is used in-secret.]    This is one of those classic situations where the guy could be the best-looking, most successful guy I could possibly meet, but his actions?  His actions would make him repulsive to me.... and at this stage in my life, I refuse to accept "repulsive" as OK or "good".

Here's the disappointing, or expected, as this situation-in-a-relationship may seem, I think it would be far too unfortunate if you let that one person keep you down. [Yes, there may have been thousands of "one persons" (just like him), but that's the pattern you, the driven survivor have to break.]  The way I see it, EVERY person deserves to be loved and cherished, by at least one other person (adult)... even people like us.

One last observation...I've been trying to repair long-term damage for YEARS... and I have found those who don't stop trying (they always strive to do better) eventually, those people DO succeed, and they become, oddly enough, yet another one of those annoying stupid happy people I so hated myself, back when I was left-out, feeling all alone... and always getting hurt because of really poor choices.

Here's my bottom-line, because Ithink it applies to all relationships:  It's not enough to know what you like or hate... without being honest, and without setting boundaries, you will always be a victim, and have no one to blame but yourself.

sorting it all out

i had some issues w/ the therapist about socializing - it's clear to me now that her specialty was incest and rape, but that she didn't really have a handle on family of origin issues.  (i.e. RAD, since by your description i am fully RAD)

i was a challenging client - i needed to know how just talking about issues was possibly going to neuronally connect the two hemispheres of my brain and bring resolution to traumas, (the cure for complex ptsd) and if the solution was successful relationships as she said, i failed to see how my clinical and surrogate relationship with her could possibly substitute for someone really being in my life who cared. 

below are some of the issues in a me/her format:

people are disappointing and lame / that's arrogant and superior
i want to be alone / we are relational beings.  you have to heal through relationships
every person i let in has lacked commitment and abandoned me / you have to try again and not give up on people

i have a friend who tends to analyze me - saying i set impossibly high standards for people to tear them down to prop myself up because i have no self esteem, which i think is way off the mark:

to me, it takes a huge amount of self esteem to do what you feel you have to do to survive a horrible childhood of adoption, abuse, and isolation.  i give myself credit for not permanently checking out, and i feel i have seen human kind's full nature and am possibly more adept at discerning its darkness, while still believing in light.  so i reject the notion that i have low self esteem.  i believe i have, instead, high self preservation.  that i disassociate and don't appear to defend myself is seen as low self-esteem - but to me, it is just a habit that is part of me - it is a treading water kind of pragmatism - and in a strange way, i feel i have the upper hand - by outlasting. it makes me feel strong, the few times i've had to call on this ability.  i am defending myself and caring for myself because nobody else is there to care for me. it's what i had to do.  it's all i know.  it is as if i operate in a parallel universe.  others can judge it for what they will, but it works for me.  it only fails when others expect me to behave as they would. i think THAT is an unfair expectation.

there are many illustrations of my parallel world.  for example: to me, it is shocking that people get angry when you don't make a point to look them in the eye.  that's a kind of intimacy i reserve for a very few, not society at large.  is this wrong of me to reserve that intimacy?  or is it just a different way of prioritizing what's important to me?  maybe i'm in denial here, but i think there are some aspects / many aspects of this parallel world that can really be beautiful if viewed from a different perspective. a taking great care, valuing quality over quantity, substance over the superfluous. i don't seek out relationships, i let them happen to me naturally.  the end result is i perpetuate my isolation, which is all i've ever known really, my whole life.  but i am also rarely lonely.  i try company on, but it seems to oscillate like sine waves to all parties.  the amount of investment also seems equal to the amount of let-down.  and when i am alone again, it just feels comfortable and right.  so it seems i have been sentenced to an entire life of isolation.  but i also think that most people with many relationships are no better off - they're just as isolated and possibly more insecure.  i believe, existentially, that we are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone.  and that is just a truth that i'm not afraid to acknowledge. 

so i guess the rad thing boils down to rejecting preemptively before you get rejected? 
what if it's just rejecting what's not real?  in this day and age, here in this place, there's very little that i want and very little out there people-wise that's of real value to me.
maybe this is what rad looks like at middle age...

anyway, just some rambling thoughts.

Happiness in Solitude

"so i guess the rad thing boils down to rejecting preemptively before you get rejected..."

I can really relate to this statement.   In fact, I go so far as to dabble in a situation, just enough to prove to myself that
I have abilities and could be involved in the world, and then QUICKLY terminate the whole thing so it is ME who is
in control and others don't get a chance to reject me.  I have lived like that for years!  RAD is real and I try to stay one
step ahead of the pain; which only proves that I have RAD.
I guess there is comfort in the familiar, and isolation is so familiar.  I can be content for hours on end to just read or
write or just be alone.  Why do others need so much interaction and value so much that which is just confusion/chaos
 to me? 
Sometimes I truly long to have that one relationship that would be content with just me... someone who could understand
and cherish NOT needing the involvement with the insane world out there, but happiness in just being together in
our own solitude. 
Why does the world think being different is wrong?

I just detest therapists with agendas!!!  Mine thinks everyone has D.I.D., which he did not study: he admits he makes it
up as he goes along.  And that's why I found another therapist! 
Anyone who is happy happy happy to be involved in the world does not have a clue how to treat/help a person with RAD!
It's always the person who is accepted by the world who tries their best to explain to us how much fun relationships in
the world can be...  and how wrong we are to be happy in solitude. 

One Step Up From Bottom,


yes, it's always a conflict with me - when i witness what others have.  part of me wants to join them and part of me grieves for my seeming inability to just enjoy what they enjoy, and another part of me thinks they are all deluded on many fronts.  for some reason, people who would never seek me out to have fun tell me their sad stories, and i've come to believe what they have is not all it's cracked up to be, normal people are not all they're cracked up to be, and i'm not even sure normal exists.  all i know it is the standard by which i am measured.  i appear normal.  i walk amongst them freely.  it doesn't take long to realize i'm very different. 

and yes, there is a burning need in others to make you like themselves.  am i just being anti-social by not wanting to be like them?  should they all be more like me?  can't i just be respected for what i am? 

you said:

Sometimes I truly long to have that one relationship that would be content with just me... someone who could understand
and cherish NOT needing the involvement with the insane world out there, but happiness in just being together in
our own solitude. 

this is what i seek too. 
there is a lovely line from the poet Rainier Maria Wilke,

"love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."

the most annoying thing for me (this is new, because recognizing adoption and abuse as being an issue is new) is having to challenge my friend's (former friends) preconceptions about adoption and abuse.  they dumbly believe every psychological stereotype they've ever heard.  they stupidly think every relationship i did or am going to get into is me seeking to be re-abused.  in this way, they become my abusers by blaming me for my victimization.    i can't fathom why someone would seek more abuse and i asked the therapist.  she said something to the effect of, we get stuck in these patterns because we want resolution.  so we'll just keep repeating them in the hopes that one of them will finally work out

well, to me that's bunk.  i don't seek re-abuse.  i seek understanding.  i seek someone secure enough in themselves that they can allow me to enjoy my solitude and individuality.  i seek love and respect and not ownership.   

you know, maybe i'm dangerous the way i think - but i think if we're comfortable with ourselves, feel good about ourselves, are forthright and honest and live the golden rule, then THAT is a good and fine place to be.  perhaps even better than all the so-called "normal" people out there.  it's much more empowering to me knowing there are others out in the world with so-called disorders like whatever i have who are articulate, thoughtful, extremely caring people with much to offer society.  i truly reject the idea that i have been damaged or that i have baggage.  maybe, maybe i've just had a whole lot to deal with.  i would rather think of this damage as a special kind of wisdom. 

One simple request

I really liked your statement:  we don't seek re-abuse, we seek understanding.

For myself, I know there are somethings about my life and past the average bear will NEVER understand, so "understanding" from others is not my goal.  All I ask for in a relationship is acceptance.  Accept me for who and what I am,( warts, wounds and weirdness) and remind me with all that's bad, there's lots of good, too.



You put this into words that I can truly understand: "that i disassociate and don't appear to defend myself is seen as low self-esteem - but to me, it is just a habit that is part of me - it is a treading water kind of pragmatism - and in a strange way, i feel i have the upper hand - by outlasting. it makes me feel strong, the few times i've had to call on this ability."

Dissociation is, IMO, exactly, an ability.  Therapists who back away from us who have this ability, holding up a crucifix
as if we are mad; these people who are the unenlightened have the problem, not us!  For a while, dissociating myself
from the horrendous pain of loss and abuse was the ONLY way I could move forward; and yes, it is a survival mechanism
that I believe is God given to those of us who MUST survive.  HAAAA!  How I would love to throw your words in my former
therapist's face!  Thanks for sharing this.

Kerry said:

"I am the first to admit I have very severe reactions to those who try to get "too close" to me.  I am predictable only in the sense that I'm unpredictable."  

In our friendship, Kerry, this is exactly what I learned from you...  to wait and not predict from reactions.
I used to take everything personally, from everyone.  But then when I realized I couldn't relate my feelings to how someone else reacts, then I was able to wait and see what the real meaning was.  And for this, I thank you.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom

Surviving the unthinkable

I have always seen disassociation as being nothing more or less than an act needed for survival.  If we were to actually think or feel what we were forced to experience, it would kill us (or the person doing the offensive act.)

I honestly don't think many people (therapists included) understand just how healthy breaking-off really is.  I know for myself, if I did not stop all thoughts and feelings, I would have become a blood thirsty animal seeking revenge.  I would be one of "them", and I could never live with myself thinking that was true.

Although I can really relate to animal behavior, I am NOT an animal.  All my life I have always been a hurting human being.

My friend disassociation

Two years ago I was raped. 

I was cornered and there was no way out.
Disassociation was the only way I made it through to the morning. 

A friend was disgusted with me, that I allowed myself to be overpowered, that I offered no resistance.
She looked on in horror as I described my helplessness and frantic terror and then black calm. 
I can not remember all that happened.  For that I am glad.  My auto pilot just kicked in. 
I am thankful for that ability to survive and block out the trauma.
My friend, disassociation, came to my rescue and saved me.
She couldn't understand that I WAS resisting. I was doing what I had to do to come out unscathed.  I was protecting the me that I value most.
And the next few months I was shaken, a little girl again, but I was so thankful I knew what to do. 
Yet so sad she would judge me for it.

Maybe some would call mentally checking out psychologically pathological. 
But that view of pathology is from the outside looking in.

From my inner perspective, disassociation is not a weak cop out.  It's not like we can turn it off, either.  It is our natural human response to trauma.  It is how we survive. 
Protecting our psyches is sometimes far more important than protecting our bodies.

I can't imagine what life would have been like if I had not been able to do this through all the gross things I have had to live through.
I imagine I would not be here today.

And you know, I often beat myself up for having no imagination.
But, maybe that resource has been given over to disassociation. 
I think it takes a whole lotta summoning of imagination to fly above indignities and go to a better place.

We can't pick and choose

My biggest problem with this life-saving device is:  I can't pick and choose when my mind will use it, making my life a very functional and broken experience.

In nursing, for instance, disassociation is/was great because certain sights or scenes wouldn't affect or bother me.  And yet, other, more personal or more tender times, my mind would release every feeling within me, bringing me to my knees.  [A working example could be seen here, in a piece I wrote, called "A Mom and her Donna",]

If I were to use one term to describe the inner-workings of RAD, it would have to say it's "inconsistent consistency".  The stress and strain of trauma within a close/intimate relationship makes everything different.  So, in this context, it's easy for me to see how "fright or flight" (adrenaline, and other stress hormones) works for or against the person facing a relationship that may or not be another source of physical trauma.

Stress response, often referred to as the "fight-or-flight" reaction, is your body's rapid and automatic switch into "high gear." It's easy to imagine how this reaction helps you deal with a physical threat. You need the energy, speed, concentration and agility either to protect yourself or to run as fast as possible.

When you encounter such a threat, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, situated atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones — the most abundant being adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances the brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

The complex alarm system also communicates with regions of the brain that control mood, motivation and fear. [From:  "Stress:  Unhealthy response to the pressures of life",]

What I find interesting about the above article's title ("Unhealthy response to the pressures of life"), for those facing real trauma that can literally be a  life-or-death situation, this so-called "unhealthy response", is in fact healthy and life saving.

life or death

My daughter was born with her body unable to produce Cortisol and it has to be given to her daily, which is a life or
death situation at times when the stress  (fever or trauma) is higher than the cortisol in her body can handle.  Trying
to explain this to the DHS and how important her care is was almost a futile waste of words.  Just think of her stress
in the foster home that was supposed to keep her safe and didn't...  And then I think of all the stress we as incest
victims have gone through and how the dissociating was , in fact healthy and life saving for us.  You just answered
my question of why my daughter dissociates .... it's what she has learned to do to survive... literally.
This was yet another very  valuable  time in here, for me.  Thank-you so much!

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
 One Step Up From Bottom

reject what did the damage and love what's broken

almost_human wrote:
it wasn't me that did the damage - reject what did the damage and love what's broken

If I had just one sentence for struggling parents raising children with attachment disorders, this would be pretty damn close.



I always loved Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and waited expectantly for its airing every year.

I couldn't wait to see the island of misfit toys. I loved how they had each other.  I loved how Rudolph liberated them. 
I love broken toys.  So much more than shiny perfect new toys.

I think the world's value system is so messed up. 

Even rejects need acceptance

I had to laugh at your reference to Rudolph.  The entire story revolves around adults rejecting those who don't fit the picture of normalcy.  Only when the misfits prove their abilities CAN be useful are they wanted and embraced by their shunning community.



Broken can not fix Broken

In NO way did my adopting all severe SN's children = a way to RIGHT a wrong done to them.    I only adopted  to
make it right for them when NO ONE ever made ANYTHING right for me...  HOW SICK IS THAT????  HOW can a
broken mother fix broken children?
At one time in my life I watched the movie: Home Alone over and over and over.............  I wanted that life!  I wanted
a family with traditions and a little on the dysfunctional side yet bonded and forgiving.  I wanted that house!  I wanted
the ability to defend myself against the world and still be a child others took care of.  I wanted the religion that did
not smother the family, and neighbors who weren't so scary ,as I thought the world was.  I wanted that family and to be
like them!

One Step Up From Bottom,

I learned here

Thanks to Kerry, I learned about RAD here. When I joined PPL, I started reading Kerry's post about adult RAD, and I said "that's me"

I learned a lot since I discovered adoptees groups.  The first time I talked about my hatred and shame of Asian faces, I though nobody could understand me but not only have they understood me, they also gave me a word to the problem: "internalized racism". Since then, I made new Asian friends and I don't feel ashamed.

Knowing a word to describe a wound or a problem doesn't remove them but it gives more power.
For the term RAD,   it's still recent but I will let you know  later if it made a difference  to put a word on a problem which was unnameable until I joined PPL.

Reactive attachment disorder

Reactive attachment disorder, term is used to describe a condition that generally appears in the children before age 5,  and is thought to result from a lack of consistent care and the nurturing in early years. The disorder is characterized by the inability of a child or infant to establish age appropriate social contact and relationships with the others. The symptoms of disorder may include a failure to thrive, developmental delays, a refusal to make eye contact, feeding difficulties, hypersensitivity to the sound and touch, failure to initiate or respond to the social interactions with the others, self stimulation, indiscriminate sociability and an unusually high susceptibility to the infections.

The problem is...

The disorder is characterized by the inability of a child or infant to establish age appropriate social contact and relationships with the others. The symptoms of disorder may include a failure to thrive, developmental delays, a refusal to make eye contact, feeding difficulties, hypersensitivity to the sound and touch, failure to initiate or respond to the social interactions with the others, self stimulation, indiscriminate sociability and an unusually high susceptibility to the infections.

... the term failure to thrive is used to describes characterizations found in other medical conditions, like chromosomal disorders, endocrine disorders, central nervous system disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders, (among others).  FTT is also seen in cases where there is malnutrition.  FTT is also seen in cases where grief is an issue for the child.  [See: Infant/Child Response to Grief ]  Note, too how the symptoms that mimic grief, (and FTT), also mimic "Institutional Autism", the coined phrase created by Ronald S. Federici, adoption advocate and child/family therapist.

The following is a list of characteristics that children with Institutional Autism exhibit:

  • Loss of physical height and weight. These children look much younger than their chronological age.
  • Severe language delay which can regress to infant babbling
  • Lack of eye contact, aloofness
  • Failure to orient to child’s name
  • Lack of interactive play
  • Lack of interest in peers
  • Failure to use gestures to point or show
  • Sometimes there are severe issues with bedwetting and soiling
  • Behavioral control issues and lack of social development
  • Attention and concentration problems. Example: ADHD-like behavior
  • Deficient in learning and memory
  • Institution-acquired autistic behaviors
  • Some of the most worrisome and disturbing characteristics of children afflicted with Institutional Autism are that when they have complete regression, they resort to self-stimulating behaviors in order to fill the lapses regarding loneliness, deprivation and despair.

Examples of these behaviors are:

  • Rocking and head banging
  • Uncontrollable outbursts of rage and aggression
  • Body thrusting into inanimate objects such as walls
  • Self-mutilating behaviors such as hair pulling and picking at the body

[From:  comment,Institutional Autism, 2008 ]

If we were to follow the grief-theory for such "odd" behaviors, (and not prescribe to the RAD /attachment disorder theory made very popular by therapists vying for AP attention), the real difference would be seen most in the way in which care-takers AND educators (teachers) treat these children during periods of high-stress, like a PTSD flash-back.

Note how some want to teach self-control and discipline, through the use of restraint, humiliation, and deprivation, as seen in the case of Boy adopted by couple from Colorado Springs, (and other cases similar to that type of parental instruction....cases that may or may not leave obvious physical injury or scarring.) 

11-year-old boy, one of 5 adopted by a couple from Colorado Springs, was forced to spend days and nights in a small room beneath stairs with only a wool blanket and bucket in which to relieve himself.  When he wasn't confined to that space, he was forced to masturbate in front of siblings, do calisthenics in the nude, wear a dog shock collar, and he was forced to eat his meals on the floor while the rest of the family dined at the table.

On good days, the adopted boy lived in a sparse basement day room, kept separate from the rest of the family.

According to the adoptive mother, she followed suggested therapies for his attachment disorder, such as employing reverse psychology and making him earn his meals and play time through good behavior.

She said one unlicensed therapist, Deborah Hage of Silverthorne, told her to put the boy in the space beneath the stairs when he was bad.

Hage wouldn't comment on the case and said she was "never the family therapist."

Prosecutors didn't seek felony convictions in this case because they could not prove the child suffered serious physical injury.

Compare that type of parental intervention and "instruction" to the fact sheet, The Effects of Trauma on Schools and Learning.... a fascinating read, since so many abuse in Ahome cases tend to happen because behavior problems were seen in school, first. To help remedy the problem, the Aparents chose to home-school the children, instead, and seek the assistance of a trained professional familiar with "odd" behaviors frequently seen in the new-age adoptee.

Why, one would almost think the RAD/attachment disorder label almost gives an adult the reason/justification to abuse a child for no sound (scientifically-based) reason!

[See why some "trained" or licensed therapists/educators would be MUCH better for adoptees, than others?]

One catch diagnosis

IMHO--RAD became the catch all for a lot of behaviors and problems no one, even in the professional world, could understand. Now we are seeing many of the same kids being diagnosed with Asperger's.

Next, it will be something else. People can't seem to understand how trauma, abuse, neglect, inutero exposure to substances, deprivation, combined with genetics and so on affect the brain in many different areas. It is easier just to day, Oh they have RAD or oh, they have Asperger's.

Children who have syndromes often have teams of professionals from various disciplines who meet, diagnose and develop treatment plans. Why we don't have this for children with the above issues as well is beyond me. Then again mental health care, in the US at least, is paltry.

Those crazy dr/therapists....always coming-up with something NEW

People can't seem to understand how trauma, abuse, neglect, inutero exposure to substances, deprivation, combined with genetics and so on affect the brain in many different areas. It is easier just to day, Oh they have RAD or oh, they have Asperger's.

I totally agree... to a degree.  It's pretty sad people paid $xxx/hr still can't figure-out if the presenting problem is FAS, RAD, autism, or PTSD.... in the adoptee.

I think it's safe to say there's money in ignorance and medicine.

Meanwhile, I saw this a while ago, and had a good chuckle.....

Mental illness is not like chickenpox or measles, where the causes are the same for everyone and most of the symptoms will be the same for every infected individual. In physical illnesses, Nature itself provides built-in categories that do most of the work of determining the diagnosis. To a considerable extent, though, the variations of mental illness make categorization the job of the researcher and practitioner, who try to establish guidelines that discriminate between various kinds of emotional disturbance. This is an ongoing job that is affected by new research and by changes in cultural and professional values. A famous example of the influence of cultural changes is the removal some years ago of homosexuality from the list of diagnoses in DSM-- a change brought about by alterations in cultural attitudes toward variations in sexual orientation. It's less well-known that the present work on the new DSM is influenced by the concept of evidence-based practice, a relatively new value in the professional subculture; diagnoses to be included in DSM-V are expected to be supported by empirical research evidence.

What is the point of having DSM at all, if the categories of mental illness are so difficult to describe? To a considerable extent, the point is to simplify communication. For example, rather than having to write or read a lengthy narrative description of a patient, a practitioner can use a diagnostic category to give a general understanding of the problems that are giving concern. For research purposes, it's necessary to define the characteristics of the population being studied, and DSM diagnoses are helpful in this. Although there are few mental illnesses that have treatments specific to the diagnosis, where such treatments are proposed, evidence for their effectiveness can be established only if there is agreement on the diagnosis. Finally, there is the well-established use of DSM categories for purposes of establishing insurance coverage and payment (and a few decades ago, the diagnosis of autism was not covered in this way).

[From:  Away With the Asperger's Diagnosis: What's It All About?, 2009 ]

Man... what would the mental-health field, and all those docs behind the DSM, do without adoptees and their myriad of "complex (and confusing) issues"?

Dated an Avoidant Attachment Disorder person

I was dating someone who was either an avoidant attachment disorder and/or some kind of narcissist/sociopath. He fell short of the two mor e serious disorders on several levels. But the callous disregard for other's right/feeling, ability to use, objectify others, and lack of empathy came out more or less in a terrifying way in the end.

From the beginning, because he retracted at my touch I assumed maybe some form of child molestation had occurred. I dated him for three months while he was working on his degree. We had sex once, it was awkward and two dates later he kicked me to the curb. *I* stayed in touch over the next six years we had mad chemistry and eventually our "friend" dates became more of me schooling him on relationships. He seemed clueless.

Then, a little over a year ago our dates became more like *dates* and I, always smitten with him, asked him if we could date again. (I felt a need to ask permission) He said two things... 1. let's take it slow 2. No sex, I don't want to hurt you again. It began slowly, I was taking a class myself for a few months then about three months into it I had more time and started seeing him once a week, then twice a week and then two or three times a week. There were a lot of hang time moments when things seemed like they should go further but I always waited for him to initiate something. He never did, Eventually, one night, he said "you know you're free to date other people." This went over my head since we hadn't discussed closing off the relationship. He always had me calling him. Texting him. His favorite mode of communication was texting. His excuse was that he had an expensive data plan and cut corners by having less talk time. He would usually only respond to messages if we were planning on doing something. Eventually I asked him if he was OK with me always calling him. He told me (very selfishly in hindsight) "Keep calling me I'm bad at calling other people." and "Trust me, if it's something I don't want to do I won't do it." Eventually I asked if I could hug him and he allowed that. (Again I was under the impression he was a REALLY good guy and I just had to give him the time and patience he required.)

So I did all this because I was smitten and he always seemed enthusiastic about our dates. At first... I even got weekends.

Then, about a month into the more frequent dating he started pushing away. Of course I started blaming myself, oblivious to the real reason... which may have been him sensing my developing attachment. About a couple months from then I confessed my feelings and had some "junkie conversations" (I had an ex that was an addict) I couldn't figure out why since he didn't have any substance problems. Eventually I figured out he had a sex addiction. While he was dating me (no sex) He was out screwing the entire city. He was thirty at the time. Most of his quarry were in their early twenties. Eventually, when I found out and after all hope of continuing the relationship was lost for me, I posted a fake profile on the hookup sites that he was frequenting obsessively. he was on the fake profile like stink on shit. The exchange was creepy. He spoke the jargon, with the pointed goal of landing a 23 year old stranger in the sack just for sex and then kicking him out of the house. I had to be sure. I didn't want to suffer any excuses and lies later.

This was a proper CHRISTIAN gay relationship... No sex... Well not with me anyway.

I've been grieving the loss of the man I thought he was ever sense.

Does anyone have any advice/perceptions to share? Is/was this a true avoidant attachment disorder with a sex addiction?

Since the nature of our relationship for years was one of him asking me relationship questions... and until I confronted him after the relationship about his sex addiction, he didn't want me to leave him. He wanted me around as a friend... *Should* I tell him what his diagnosis probably is? When I confessed my feeling to him he was almost panicked. I felt that the entire six years that I had known him he was presenting a person that didn't exist. It was like me telling my feelings made him leak and breached the persona he had projected all that time... and what I learned latter was that he was basically a sexual predator underneath and someone who'd been manipulating me for six+ years. A life long manipulator. I figured a tiger doesn't change it's stripes but am I wrong? Is he really seeking, in his own way, some kind of help? Did my breaking it off with him completely do more harm than good? I cannot parse the monster from the disorder.

I don't know if I should. It's hard to leave someone when they're in trouble. In the gay world these guys are a dime a dozen yet they usually advertise so they can find others that just want a hop in the sack. This guy hid everything. He told me he "respected" me. I guess maybe, in his own way, him not involving me was a form of "respect". I know so many guys that are pushing 60 and resorting to prostitution, etc.. I don't want someone I love to end up like them. I already know I can't fix him, but could I advise him? Point him in the right direction or is this guy Just toxic without any want/ability to reform? Would he even hear the information or would he simply react against it/me and throw it out?

Offering help

First, thank you for sharing details to your own situation; I know from personal experience just how difficult it is to watch a person fall into the same traps and scripts that create the mad cycle you have described.

I also happen to know a little about life on that other side.  As one who would avoid close relationships like the plague, I truly believe patterns and behaviors can't change until there is a melting, of sorts.  The best way I can describe what I mean, as silly as it may seem,  can be seen in the Christmas Classic, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".  In that movie, there is a character, The Winter Warlock, and he is known for his cold and unmerciful ways.  In one scene, he is perhaps for the very first time in his life, truly touched by human kindness, and with that touch, his cold exterior immediately melts away.  More telling is his ongoing response:  although he feared his old ways would return, he also made a sincere effort in terms of  becoming a kinder more social sort of person.  His change in disposition and behavior wasn't the result of magic... it was the result of deliberate work and effort., and opening oneself up to different ways, including working well with others.  [Think of this example as the 5 minute claymation-version of Behavior Modification.]

So here comes the tricky question(s):  do you continue to show a cold indifferent "monster" a sense of warmth, kindness, and interest, or do you turn your back, like that person most likely expects all people to do?   Do you assume the role of  an authortiy-figure who insists on radical change, or do you show through action, how caring loving relationships revolve around communication, sharing, and accepting things that may never ever change? The key here, in terms of continuing a relationship with this individual, is knowing A) you can't fix him alone, by yourself... at best, you can serve as a positive example, and B) there is an important need to establish safe boundaries,  (for him and yourself), which includes, but is not limited to the removal of all sexual activity between you two.

There is one more thing I'd like to add.....the truth is, some people never feel the need to change; they don't feel as though anything is missing from their lives... they are content with life/relationships/sexual activity just the way they are, and they may easily resent anyone who tries to force change upon them.  Whereas, for others, that need for closeness and warmth with another has always been there, it just got confused and burried underneath a lifetime of valid reason to doubt and mistrust other humans.   This latter group, in my opinion, would do very well with a kind committed friend, even if it feels like it will be ages before genuine warmth and sincere interest in others will be exhibited in their behaviors.

I'm curious... does this person have any friends?

Thank you Kerry

It's been a while. I checked back and saw your reply. A lot has happened since my post. I started seeing my old therapist, I'm realizing that this guy wasn't the only sociopath/ephebophile that's run a path of destruction through my life. I realized that they guy's probably avoidant attachment for sure but he's probably an ephebophile as well. I was pretty much an emotional hook up. He's got sociopathic/narcissistic behaviors as well, but he's not 100% in that category. Sure. He's got LOTS of "friends" He's got a whole stable full of past conquests.

He also had a 22 year old straight kid moving in with him. Lord only knows what he's doing to that kid. The kid had a girlfriend as well. Other details were that the guys parents were going through a divorce. So you have the kid with a vaccum in his life and a sex addict/conquest driven ephebophile isolating the guy in his own home. Creepy.

He also had a try of money by the back door. That tray of money was always around. I would tell him he should put it someplace but he just said it was a drop off. When I realized the tray of money was always present + strangers come to the house for sex = prostitution.... Well. Add up all these attributes and that waiting for the ice man to "melt" scenario is just denial.

Pedophiles/Ephebophiles never change. Sociopathy never changes. Avoidant Attachment Disorder, Narcissism, deeply manipulative behaviors and sex adddiction rarely change and if they do it only changes. Its never cured. I'm flogging a dead horse of a fantasy to think I could ever even *help* this guy as a friend. Apparently he likes what he is. Sure he's ashamed of it, he wouldn't hide it otherwise, but I feel that's part of the thrill. Manipulating people who should know better. Toying with getting caught. It's all sick and I'm definitely worth WAY more than that.

It's been eight or nine months now. My sexless romantic bond is going dormant, I'm not a doormat to it anymore so I just have to keep healing. The guy's not attempted to contact me, I run almost a zero chance of running in to him. Things are as they have always been between us: on HIS terms. If he wants to get better he will. If I meant anything to him he would call. But that's not something I'd ever expect. All the people I've spoken with tell me I'm just a footnote in his life. His type doesn't have the capacity to care for anybody.

It's been so damaging for me to realize that some people simply are incapable of love. Before this I thought everyone could love/would love eventually. Now I realize that my own father never loved my mother. I've been interviewing a lot of people and realize my dad's never truly loved anyone. The thing I learned was how to ask the question. Don't ask if someone has been in love. Ask how they dealed with the loss of it. If they tell you they got over it in a week or two then they probably don't have the ability to love. So my dad said this very thing. This is probably why I fell into this situation. Many of these people I've been interviewing actually resent romantic bonding. They've never felt it, they can only intellectualize it and they view it as clingy or needy. They really don't miss what they can't feel and therefore they don't seek it either. It makes sense now why this world is the way it is.

Thank you for your time, however some people are just broken.

Pound Pup Legacy