The feeling and the urge

The perfect state of attachment is a balance between a safe base and a safe capacity for exploration. As this base is never absolutely stable, the experience of attachment includes a feeling state of anxiety.

The drive to meet one’s attachment need creates an active, ongoing urge that is life-long and implacable, which we will call aggression.

There is a feeling and there is an urge. They are connected.

Our experience consists of the interaction between anxiety (feeling), attachment, and aggression (urge). We continually attempt to balance those competing facets of our attachment experience.

Our attachment system is never turned off. We always have a level of arousal, and we use “anxiety” as a way to talk about that arousal.  The ongoing interaction of the urge of aggression, the feeling state of anxiety, and the biological imperative of attachment maintain a permanent psychological state of conflict.

The conflict state can be resolved, and indeed must be.

On the one hand, we can solve the conflict by giving up the quest for attachment entirely. Simply by solving the conflict in this way, we give up. This solution will be effective at times, and it is important to recognize when giving up is appropriate to the circumstances.

The aggressive urge mounts in order to resolve the conflict and confirm the attachment. At this polar extreme we may become violent and attempt to dominate through force in the emotional, intellectual, or physical realms, or any combination of these. Examples of this process explain much of the violent incidents witnessed in intimate attachment experience.