chapter  2
10 Pages

Multiplicity revealed in the Adult Attachment Interview: When integration and coherence means death


Consider the experiences of a normatively developing 11-year-old girl who had suffered a sprained ankle, following a painful fall causing her left ankle to twist and bend. X-rays shortly after the fall con®rmed that the ankle was not broken, but it was pointed out that a child's capacity for bending, swelling and injuring soft tissue is great compared with the adult, whose bone would be likely to break under similar pressure. Thus, for 1 week the child was advised to rest the ankle, not to apply undue pressure and crutches were given as an aid to movement, lest the child would sink into immobility altogether. One week later the well-rested foot was blue in colour and cold and very sore at the slightest pressure. Another two X-rays revealed no evidence of broken bones. The diagnosis was hyper-sensitive nerves, and insuf®cient blood circulation, following the week-old traumatic injury such that any pressure, even ordinary touch, triggered `memories' of the trauma giving rise to the palpable sensory experience of intolerable pain. The treatment recommended was to `re-educate' the nerves so that pressure and touch could again be tolerated, indeed welcomed for the sense of life and joy they can bring. This contrasted with the view of the young girl who had already formed a view of her immobile leg as ungainly, and alien. It did not feel like a part of her, but she could not imagine living without it.