The concept of attachment refers to the emotional bond between close people. In the case of infants, attachment happens between them and their caregivers, who are their mothers in the majority of cases. Children who are not older than two years are only capable of retrieving information on this world through the senses of seeing, hearing, touching, and tasting (Stangor & Walinga, 2014). They are incapable of using imagination and thinking logically (Stangor & Walinga, 2014). Therefore, they are immensely vulnerable, and their caregivers need to establish a strong attachment with them because this will affect their happiness in youth and adulthood.
There are several attachment styles: secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized (Stangor & Walinga, 2014). The type of style that an infant will develop depends on whether a caregiver spends enough time with him and is near every time a baby needs it. Attachment style affects the future psychological traits and temperament of a child. For instance, infants who have experienced disorganized attachment style “have no consistent way of coping with the stress of the strange situation” (Stangor & Walinga, 2014).
Therefore, stressful situations will become a major barrier to the happiness of such people because they do not have a set of necessary skills to cope with them successfully. A child with an avoidant style will avoid his mother in the future as well. This might turn into a lack of communication between a mother and a child in the future. Children with ambivalent attachment styles will suffer from a lack of security. Overall, the representatives of other attachment styles are likely to suffer from such disorders as depression and anxiety.
From this, it could be inferred that children with the secure attachment style are more likely to turn into happy adults capable of building safe and loving relations with others, all other things being equal. According to Sigmund Freud, personality consists of the id and superego that together form an ego. The id part is responsible for identifying the current desires of a person, whereas the superego is responsible for the critical analysis. The ego, in its turn, is responsible for searching for ways of combining what the id and superego need. In a happy person, these parts should stay balanced because a skew towards the superego means ignoring his requirements to receive pleasure.
A person who does not satisfy his desires for pleasure cannot be entirely happy. Defense mechanisms are needed to protect a person from internal conflicts, external stressful conditions, and the feeling of anxiety. There are eight major types of defense mechanisms: displacement, projection, rationalization, react formation, regression, denial, and sublimation (Stangor & Walinga, 2014). All these mechanisms cope differently with the same negative emotions; some are more efficient than others. Hence, the extent of people’s happiness also varies according to the existing defense mechanism. For example, displacement means that a person moves away from the source of fear.
Projection means that a person attributes stressful personal factors to other people. People with a rationalization defense mechanism justify themselves; people with a formation defense mechanism deny facts that make them feel anxious. People who apply the regression mechanism go back to the safer stage of development when facing stressful or fearful situations. People with denial mechanisms are “pushing anxiety-arousing thoughts into the unconscious” (Stangor & Walinga, 2014). Sublimation means that a person replaces unacceptable desires with acceptable actions. Most defense mechanisms do not solve the cause of stress; instead, people act as if nothing happens.
This way, a person with sublimation will be unhappy because he does nothing to solve the root problem, and places it at the unconscious level. A person who uses reaction formation will suffer because he hides his real feelings from the world. The projection will turn into the constant blaming of others which also means a lack of happiness. Consequently, even though these mechanisms help protect a person from anxiety, they do not always make him happy.
Stangor, C., & Walinga, J. (2014). Introduction to psychology. BCcampus Open Education.