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Attachment styles modulate neural markers of threat and imagery when engaging in self-criticism


The Role of Self Criticism

A key feature of mental health difficulties is the way people develop and form internal representations of the self that then become a source of self-judgment, self-evaluation, and self-criticism. Self-criticism, in particular, is one of the most important risk-factors for mental health difficulties, and has been implicated in depression, anxiety, and social phobia. This self-criticism results mainly from childhood attachment styles, when parents are overly critical, rejecting, and overprotective during a child’s developmental years.

About the research

This review assesses how neural markers of self-criticism may relate to attachment style, identifying mechanisms that may be encoded during early childhood and could influence self-relating styles and neural function during adulthood. fMRI studies confirm that attachment style can be a significant indicator of self-criticism related psychiatric conditions, specifically when looking at the lingual gyrus during greater levels of amygdala (fear) response.

The implications of self-relating styles for individual well-being and mental health are obvious, but the way we process and experience criticism may also have implications for our interpersonal relationships. Understanding how attachment styles may shape experiences of criticism within different role-relationships has implications for our collective well-being and our society.

Read the review