The 5 Best Books on Attachment Theory

Attachment theory is the psychological consideration of relationships between humans.

Understanding it in detail will, theoretically, help you to build stronger, better relationships.

If this sounds like something you want, here are some of the best books on attachment theory to get you started.

Best Books on Attachment Theory

1. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

The key to this book is that it explains why some people find relationships effortless, while others struggle with them. By identifying these two groups, readers can then work out how to improve.

Technically, the book uses three categories, but they divide into the two mentioned above. It follows these definitions with a road map for each, making it easy to understand the way forwards.

Attached switches between questionnaires, examples, tips and case studies to make for a more interactive read.

The book focuses solely on loving relationships rather than friendships or interactions with others. So, while the advice is well contextualised and easy to read, it’s not applicable to anything outside a romantic relationship.

Pros

  • Good use of examples and case studies.
  • Easy to understand attachment theory.
  • Written by two experienced social psychologists.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer advice outside of romantic relationships.

2. Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin

As the title suggests, this book works on the basis that we’re all programmed to love but might struggle with finding a loving relationship. It uses attachment theory to unpack and contextualize the way your partner thinks.

It does so by setting up the concepts of a warring brain and a loving brain. In short, a warring brain favours conflict, whereas a loving brain favours understanding.

At its most basic level, the book teaches the reader to communicate better in their relationship. It also provides helpful tips for diffusing situations and identifying areas of behaviour to improve.

While not a major disadvantage, both partners must read the book for it to work properly. So, much like couples counselling, it won’t do wonders if one party isn’t willing to engage.

Pros

  • Sets up clear concepts to help understand a relationship.
  • Uses attachment theory and neurobiology.
  • Favours communication and diffusion above all.

Cons

  • Requires both partners to engage.

3. The Power of Attachment: How to Create Deep and Lasting Intimate Relationships by Diane Heller

The key message of this book is that overwhelming incidents affect how we form relationships. The trauma caused by these events leads to grief and fear, which influence how we interact with others.

It provides insights into how you can heal from trauma and begin to form closer, more meaningful attachments. This is the main benefit that it offers over many other attachment theory titles. It focuses specifically on the impact of trauma, something many have to deal with.

Heller combines personal experience, exercises, and information from her academic career to produce a book that’s clear, compassionate, and easy to work with.

Some readers might not appreciate its use of more spiritual techniques. Although these aren’t the main drive behind the book, it differs from other titles in that it’s less scientific and calls upon concepts such as “inner spirituality” and “grounding”.

Pros

  • Based on the author’s academic work.
  • Focuses on healing from trauma.
  • Considers romantic and non-romantic relationships.

Cons

  • Uses spirituality – some readers might not enjoy.
  • Only really suitable for those attempting to heal from trauma.

4. The Attachment Theory Workbook: Powerful Tools to Promote Understanding, Increase Stability, and Build Lasting Relationships by Annie Chen

The title explains this book quite concisely. Its main focus is as a practical workbook rather than a theoretical text. As a result, it’s usable and very clear in its information.

It still covers the basics of attachment theory but then offers strategies for improving relationships once you’ve identified your attachment style.

One big advantage it has over other attachment theory titles is that it provides strategies for romantic and familial relationships and friendships. It’s wider-reaching and easier to apply to different situations.

It’s quite a generalised overview of attachment theory due to its focus on activities. So, if you’re looking for a deeper guide, consider a different title.

Pros

  • Contains clear, actionable exercises.
  • Focuses on different types of relationships.
  • Helps readers to easily identify their attachment style.

Cons

  • Quite a generalised view of attachment theory.

5. Attachment Theory: A Guide to Strengthening the Relationships in Your Life by Thais Gibson

Unlike many other books on attachment theory, this one contains descriptions of four attachment types. It adds Dismissive Avoidant to the standard three, meaning each is more specific than you might find elsewhere.

Gibson explains each clearly and helps the reader to identify their attachment style. This is done using quizzes and quick, clear summaries. After identifying your attachment style, the book guides you through strategies to improve relationships.

It does this using knowledge of subconscious processes and more traditional psychological methodologies. Gibson uses “cutting edge” areas of attachment theory, which primarily refers to the inclusion of a fourth attachment type.

One thing the book lacks, however, is clear, defined examples of each attachment type. While it sets up examples in the earlier chapters, these lack consistency later in the book. As a result, it might be difficult for new readers to accurately follow their attachment type through the text.

Pros

  • Adds a fourth attachment style.
  • Uses a mix of quizzes, summaries, and exercises.
  • Focuses on different kinds of relationships.

Cons

  • Examples of attachment styles are inconsistent throughout.

Conclusion

Attachment theory has the potential to benefit all aspects of everyday life. After all, much of our lives are based on relationships.

If you’re new to the subject, any of the books above will provide a good starting point. Of course, some cater to more specific needs.

Whichever title you choose, be sure to spend time putting its teachings into practice.

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