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Carol Kryder LMFT
Carol Kryder LMFT, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 808
Experience:  APA Board Certified, Diplomate,Substance Abuse Professional, 20 years family therapy experience
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Can you explain how attachment theory might affect a 52 year

Resolved Question:

Can you explain how attachment theory might affect a 52 year old who has a dating phobia?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Carol Kryder LMFT replied 8 years ago.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)occurs in children who have been neglected or abused. It is very common in children who have been adopted. This happens because the child has learned that trusting an adult causes intense pain and rejection, so they protect themselves and do not allow themselves to attach to anyone. They can have severe behavioral problems and always require many months of therapy, sometimes residential and always family therapy.

If an adult age 52 has a dating phobia even after quite a bit of therapy, it could be RAD, but I am more inclined to think it is fear of intimacy. When a child has been hurt by caregivers, abused, neglected, she learns that trusting others causes pain (very much like RAD) and she will have an intense fear of being vulnerable to others. Dating is the first step to a relationship, which then can develop into emotional or physical intimacy--terrifying to someone who has issues with trust.

My suggestion is to try systematic desensitization. Find a therapist who will work with you behaviorally to desensitize you and gradually help you to begin to be in the presence of a male person without having that overwhelming anxiety and fear.

This is very treatable. Be sure to find someone who has experience with anxiety and desensitization therapy. You will be very happy you did this. Don't give up. Good luck.
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