The Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM) emphasizes the dynamic interaction of the maturation of the human organism, across the life-span, with the contexts in which maturational possibilities are used to protect the self, reproduce, and protect one’s progeny.
• Maturation is both neurological/mental and also physical.
• Maturation involves both the increase in potential during childhood and adulthood and also the ultimate decrease in potential in old age.
• Contexts include both the people and places that affect development, e.g., family, school.
The outcome is the organization of mental and behavioral strategies for protection of the self and progeny, i.e., patterns of attachment.
The DMM hypothesizes that, as maturation makes new and more complex mental and behavioral processes possible, changes in context provide the occasion for using these processes. Specifically, there is a need for maturing individuals to attribute meaning to complex, ambiguous, incomplete, and deceptive information in ways that promote self-protective behavior; the interaction of maturation with experience provides a basis for this. The particular organization of self-protective behavior that develops reflects the strategies that most effectively identify, prevent, and protect the self from the dangers of particular contexts while concurrently promoting exploration of other aspects of life. Because exposure to danger differs by age as well as by person, family, and cultural group, individuals’ patterns of attachment will reflect:
• Individual developmental history;
• Family organization of self-protective strategies;
• Cultural experience with persistent local dangers.
The parents mediate the effect of the context upon the infant, including risk to the infant.
Learning safe forms of self-reliance for short periods of time
establishing symmetrical attachments with best friends while concurrently maintaining affiliative peer relationships;
transforming best friend attachments into romantic, reciprocal attachments with a sexual component;
Establishing (1) symmetrical and reciprocal spousal attachments that foster both partners’ development, (2) the nurturance of children in non-reciprocal, and (3) non-symmetrical attachment relationships in which the adult is the attachment figure;
Attachments in later life when the adult is becoming less physically and mentally competent and in need of protection once again.