The concept of separation is closely related to attachment

While numbing or repression as an automatic defence mechanism is necessary for the child’s emotional survival, it is counterproductive in adulthood rendering the adult unamenable to healthy emotional contact. Many relationships have foundered on the rock of this ‘coldness’. It is very understandable that an adult may wish to avoid breaking that shell and experiencing the pain that was frozen so long ago. But unless that pain is experienced some adults will not only suffer from fear and inner turmoil, but may also become controlling and the controlling personality is driven not so much by anger, but by fear of abandonment and the shame that accompanies it. This is clearly argued in Donald Dutton’s books, which explore the concept of attachment and its negative consequences.
We cannot discuss attachment without looking at the concept of separation. John Bowlby was one of the first to show that they are closely related. In other words, if a child is securely attached to a consistently reliable parent, it has the foundation to explore its world and ultimately leave and live independently, always possessing core security, a spirit of autonomy and the ability to love and trust. Separation, therefore, is a psychological term denoting an emotional process tending towards independence, bearing in mind that all very young children are wary and dislike being separated from their mothers. Those of you with small children will see that they love meeting their grandparents, but any suggestion of a stay over will bring on resistance, anxiety and tantrums until they leave toddler stage. Separation, therefore, is about your instinct for safety. Essentially it is about survival and fear of not surviving, either physically or emotionally. For those with fear of abandonment the world is a very unsafe place. Basically if you cannot trust your parents to meet your needs, who can you trust? Jason’s distress in relation to his father is a good indication of this.

Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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