We have been discussing the difficult topic of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a form of early childhood trauma in which an infant does not attach (bond) with its parents and which results in significant relationship issues and other struggles. Sadly, children who were not properly diagnosed during their childhood or teenage years have become adults with RAD. While the symptoms for adults are somewhat different than for children, problems still impact all relationships.
Do adult RAD symptoms sound familiar to you?
- Unreasonable or inappropriate anger
- Overcritical of others and self
- Intolerant of rules and authority
- Lack of empathy or remorse
- Views others as untrustworthy and unreliable
- Feelings of self-importance
- Feelings of entitlement or arrogance
- Self-reliance; prefers to work alone than with others
- Views relationships as threatening, or not worth the effort
- May be a workaholic, as a way of avoiding relationships
- Feelings of being unique
- Grandiose or unrealistic fantasies
- Compulsive caregiving
- Feels underappreciated
- Many short-term relationships
- Idealizes others
- Possessive; makes unrealistic demands of relationships
- Preoccupied with relationships, and easily makes declarations of affection
- Obtains feelings of security through relationships
- Sees relationships as imbalanced
- Oversensitive to rejection, easily gives in to jealousy
- Sees others as being difficult to understand
- Unable to understand the concept of altruism
- Extreme emotions
May also include…
- Prone to depression
- Socially inappropriate behavior
- Self-mutilating behavior
- Often do not remember much of childhood experiences
- Darkness behind the eyes when angered
- At risk of abusing their own children
- Children with RAD may become adults diagnosed with sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial or borderline disorder
It is important to recognize that these behaviors may also occur in individuals who do not have RAD. However, if these symptoms persist consistently, it would be wise to see a therapist and evaluate the possibility of being a victim of RAD.
When behaviors are this serious, an individual can be labeled as mentally disturbed or criminal when, in fact, the person may be suffering from a syndrome that occured when he/she was a child. Rather than institutionalizing, punishing or shaming adults who have RAD, we should recognize what has truly happened and offer them the help they need to overcome the significant effects of this serious attachment disorder.
As we assist children and adults who have many relational and other difficulties, we should be very careful to make sure we have understood that individual’s past so we may offer appropriate therapeutic support. Once we know how to best help, we can give them hope that change and healing can occur…hope that they can finally have normal relationships with their families, friends and loved ones.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Information taken from Deepening Trauma Awareness, Diane Wagenhals, 2008. All rights reserved. Licensed materials.