Stressful Life Events Across the Life Span and Insecure Attachment Following Combat Trauma
Attachment orientations are mostly considered to be stable interpersonal patterns. Still, a growing body of literature shows changes in attachment orientations following stressful and traumatic events. This study examined the implications of stressful life events (SLEs) throughout the life cycle in insecure attachment orientations (anxious attachment and avoidant attachment). The sample included 664 Israeli war veterans from the 1982 Lebanon War, of whom 363 suffered from acute combat stress reaction (CSR) on the battlefield, and 301 comprised a matched control group without antecedent CSR. The findings reveal a positive correlation between insecure attachment and both acute (CSR) and chronic (post-traumatic stress disorder) stress reactions. In addition, post-war SLEs were more powerful predictors of insecure attachment than other types of SLEs. Combat exposure, as well as pre-war SLEs in childhood and adulthood, made differential contributions to both types of insecure attachment orientations. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.