Am I still dealing with reactive attachment disorder?

I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Pattie last night.  It was one that we hadn’t really had since the boys and I have been on our own. 

This conversation was about Gavin and reactive attachment disorder. 


With Gavin doing so well over the past year, I was wondering if that was even still an accurate diagnosis and the answer really surprised me. 

The fact that Gavin’s doing so well is at least partly attributed to no longer being in the same house as his Mother. 

That sounds worse than what it really is. 

When a child has reactive attachment disorder, the Mother is almost always the primary target.  No one knows why this is the case, it just is. 

When either the child or the Mother is removed from the equation, you can see dramatic changes in behavior. 

Truthfully, I don’t know how I feel about this. 

It’s hard to imagine that something can change so suddenly and dramatically.  If they had a toxic relationship and they did, at least to some extent, I could see why there would be improvement.

At the same time, if that were true, I would think that the change would be something that takes place over time. 

Gavin’s change was instantaneous.. That’s what doesn’t make sense to me. 

The reality is that Gavin’s relationship with his Mom has been complicated for a very long time.  Gavin did at times seem to target his Mom and had a way of doing it that made it so I didn’t see it happen. 

At the same time, because of the complicated nature of their relationship and emotional issues present in both, their was a great deal of overreaction to Gavin’s behaviors. 

So is Gavin doing better because he’s no longer in that environment? Is Gavin doing better than because he does have reactive attachment disorder and not having his Mom to target has changed things for him?

I truly don’t know.  Frankly, I don’t know if we ever will either….

At the end of the day, he’s doing amazing and does it really matter why?

This site is managed almost exclusively from my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Please forgive any typos as auto-correct HATES me. 😉

If you like what I’m doing, PLEASE consider supporting my efforts. Click here to find ways you can help for FREE.

Leave a Reply

5 Comments on "Am I still dealing with reactive attachment disorder?"

Notify of
Photo and Image Files
Audio and Video Files
Other File Types
Kim Gebhardt
I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your former in-laws, but I’d ask them how his behavior is when he is there and Lizze is around. Personally, I wouldn’t trust Lizze to be completely honest about the whole thing. I always did feel that she was trying to make you decide between her and Gavin when this topic would come up. Based on her blog, I think she enjoyed the drama of being a ‘target’. In any event, I’m glad he’s doing better with her out of the house and I tend to agree with the thought… Read more »
Rob Gorski

While I can’t comment on everything you said, Gavin was often a point of contention. At the same time, a kid with RAD would be seeking to create that type of environment.

It’s so hard to look back because I find myself having to question everything..

For that reason, I’m trying not to look back as much and focusing more on looking forward.. ☺


So what did Dr Pattie say? I’d say that Gavin is recovering from RAD.

Rob Gorski

She feels he still has it but that because he’s not in the same situation, he’s doing much better. Is that recovery? I don’t know but better is better… ☺

I have spent a long time reading your old blog. I am a psycholgist and find parental 1st hand input a very powerful tool. Your blog was an amazing observation in how family dynamics can exacerbate symptoms even when everyone is trying their hardest. A borderline personality parent (which you are not but your wife was diagnosed with it at one time) often works in the black and white (good child/bad child) and will shift a situation to fit their narrative. Children do not like to dissapoint and will begin to fill those roles (bad child acting out, good child… Read more »