Attachment to Stuffed Animals – How to Break Free

woman in black shirt sitting beside white bear plush toy attachement to stuffed animals

Stuffed Animal Obsession

What is it about the past that we find so hard to let go?

We are the sum of our memories. When I think back on my time in high school, my senior year, I remember all of them with vivid clarity: from getting through a tough first day of class to my first love.

We remember and we are attached to moments and objects.

As an adult, you might feel the sense of attachment to something that is inanimate.

Key Takeaways

Attachment to weighted stuffed animals is not a problem in general

Attachment items can lead to self-esteem and comfort

A transitional object provides comfort

They ease anxiety and fear and fight separation anxiety

Stuffed animals make people feel good, relieving stress and providing comfort

Unhealthy obsession to object should be breaked

Emotional Attachment to Stuffed Animals as Adults

People with intense emotional attachments to objects may be experiencing dysfunctional attachment patterns. This can often be seen in people’s interpersonal relationships as well.

Adults with attachments that were formed in childhood are more likely to have them persist into adulthood. Attachment in childhood is formed between an infant and a primary caregiver. People with attachments that are based on security (not love) are more likely to struggle in adulthood.

Infants attachment to objects

Infants form emotional attachments to inanimate objects, such as a cloth surrogate. Contact comfort is an important factor in infant attachment.

Infants develop attachment in early infancy, usually to the mother. Attachment can be exhibited in a number of ways, such as stranger anxiety and separation anxiety.

Children attachment to objects

Children can form emotional attachments to inanimate objects as a result of lacking contact comfort in their childhood. Contact comfort is a term given by psychologist Harry Harlow, who studied how monkeys form emotional attachments to their mothers. Children may form emotional attachments to inanimate objects as a way to seek comfort.

brown bear plush toy on snow covered ground during daytime

Teenager attached to stuffed animal

Teens who cling to transitional objects may have poorer mental health. Educators and experts recommend that parents consult a pediatrician or mental health counselor if there is a concern about a child’s attachment to an object.

Attachment to Stuffed Animals as adult

Adults form emotional attachments to stuffed animals in the same way children do. The University Hospital of Ulm found that patients with a borderline personality disorder benefit from these attachments. Adults form emotional attachments to inanimate objects to avoid fear of attachment.

Harry Harlow – monkey attachement study

Harry Harlow conducted studies on attachment in infant monkeys by designing tests where they could cling to something soft. Contact comfort is the apparent attachment of infants to something soft to the touch.

Harlow’s studies showed that infants who had contact comfort (clung to something soft) were more likely to grow up without any form of anxiety or depression.

Monkeys attach emotionally to inanimate objects. The more time a monkey spends with a surrogate, the more attached they are to it.

What is an inanimate object?

An inanimate object is an object that does not have life. This can be anything from a chair to a toy or a weighted stuffed animal.

In Western societies, co-sleeping is less common which can lead to children having an emotional attachment to inanimate objects. These objects can provide comfort and security during times of anxiety or fear, such as during transitions, such as starting school or moving to a new home.

Examples of inanimate objects that adults have an emotional attachment to

1. Weighted Stuffed Animals

Many adults have an emotional attachment to Weighted Stuffed Animals because they can serve as comfort objects. Stuffed animals can make adults feel less shy and can help increase happiness and self-esteem in trauma survivors. Stuffed animals can also help adults heal from emotional attachments to stuffed animals in childhood.

Stuffed toys are often used by adults to help deal with anxiety due to the fact that they are comforting and non-judgmental. The act of hugging a stuffed toy can release serotonin, the hormone that brightens your mood. Toys also help infants develop social and emotional skills, as well as sensory skills. Therefore, it is not surprising that many adults have an emotional attachment to toys from their childhood.

2. Photographs

Adults have an emotional attachment to photographs because they are a way to remember memories. Photographs can capture happy or sad moments from a person’s life, and can help people remember those memories.

3. Clothing

As toddlers, we may develop emotional attachments to our clothing. Children who have a beloved piece of clothing or stuffed animal as a toddler develop healthy emotional attachments to them.

Kids who have strong attachments to transitional objects (like clothes) are happier than those without. Even as adults, we still sleep with our stuffed animals, according to a 2018 study.

4. Jewelry

Adults can form emotional attachments to jewelry in a similar way to how children do. It can be a way to express their personality or style, and can make them feel happy and fulfilled.

5. Cars

People have strong emotional attachments to their cars. This is likely because cars are a symbol of independence and freedom. Cars also provide a sense of security and comfort.

What causes adults to form emotional attachments to inanimate objects?

Adults form emotional attachments to inanimate objects for a variety of reasons. One reason is nostalgia- a feeling of attachment to a past moment. Another reason adults form attachments to inanimate objects is because those objects make them feel safe and secure.

We rely on these objects to give us comfort during difficult times, and we develop an emotional connection with them as a result.

1. Stuffed animals bring a sense of security

Stuffed animals can bring a sense of security to adults by providing them with a physical object to hug or hold onto. Stuffed animals can also help adults feel less shy and more focused in potentially stressful environments.

2. Stuffed animals help ease loneliness

Stuffed animals can help ease feelings of loneliness in adults. Adults can feel alienated in the modern world, even when surrounded by people. Stuffed animals can help ease these feelings by providing companionship and a sense of connection.

3. Stuffed animals improve mental health

Stuffed animals can improve mental health for adults by providing a way to experience and express emotions, feeling of unconditional support, and grounding. They can be beneficial for adults who have experienced trauma as a child.

4. Stuffed animals can help us grieve

When we lose a loved one, it can be difficult to cope with the grief and pain. Stuffed animals can offer us a source of comfort during this time. They provide us with a physical connection to our memories of the person who has passed away.

5. Stuffed animals help us heal from trauma

A stuffed animal can provide comfort to someone who has experienced trauma. Stuffed animals can help increase happiness and self-esteem in trauma survivors, and decrease feelings of self-loathing. Stuffed animals can help us heal from trauma, just like live animals can.

Stuffed animals are often used in therapy to help people heal from trauma. Research has shown that they can be helpful in re-parenting, which helps a person recover from childhood trauma.

6. Stuffed animals remind us of childhood

Stuffed animals can help us feel happy and comforted by reminding us of happy childhood memories. When we see a stuffed animal, it can remind us of a time when we were carefree and loved. Stuffed animals can help us feel more connected to our childhood selves, and remind us of the happiness we felt then.

7. Stuffed animals reduce stress

Touching an animal has been shown to reduce stress levels. Therefore, simply holding or petting a stuffed animal can help to lower an adult’s stress levels.

How do Stuffed animals improve mental health?

Expressing emotions

Stuffed animals can improve mental health for adults is by providing a way to experience and express emotions. For example, people who are dealing with grief may find it helpful to cuddle a stuffed animal as a way of expressing their sadness. People who are feeling angry may find it helpful to hit or squeeze a stuffed animal as a way of releasing their anger in a safe and controlled manner.

unconditional support

Another way that stuffed animals can improve mental health for adults is by providing feelings of unconditional support. For example, people who are struggling with anxiety or depression may find comfort in hugging a stuffed animal because it provides them with a sense of security and safety. Additionally, people who are going through difficult life transitions such as job loss or divorce may also find comfort in the unconditional support that a stuffed animal can provide.

grounding

Lastly, stuffed animals can also improve mental health for adults by providing grounding. For example, if someone is experiencing flashbacks or dissociation due to PTSD, holding onto a stuffed animal can help them feel more connected to the present moment and less likely to be pulled into the past.

Additionally, people who are struggling with intrusive thoughts or manic episodes may find that cuddling a stuffed animal can help them feel more calm and grounded.

How to break emotional attachment to things?

People who have a real strong emotional attachment to stuffed animals, for example, may have difficulty forming healthy attachments to other people.

That is why we have to examine and analyse our attachement form time to time.

If you find that you have developed an unhealthy emotional attachment to an object, it is important to take some time to reflect on why this might be.

Once you have done this, you can begin to take steps to detach yourself from the object if you feel it is necessary. This might involve gradually spending less time with the object or keeping it out of sight.

It is also important to remember that there is nothing wrong with having an emotional attachment to an object – it is only a problem if it begins to negatively affect your life in some way.

Step 1: Determine if you have an emotional attachment to an inanimate object.

One sign of strong emotional attachement is if the person frequently talks to stuffed animals or carries it around with them. Another sign is if the person becomes distressed when they are separated from the object.

Step 2: Reflect on why you have this emotional attachment.

In order to deal with emotional attachments to inanimate objects, it is important to understand why we develop these attachments in the first place. We attach emotions to inanimate objects because we feel something for them. This can be due to nostalgia for memories from the past, or towards people or things we care about in the present. These attachments are known as “Security Blankets” because they provide us with a sense of comfort and security.

Step 3: Consider how this emotional attachment affects your life.

Adults often think about objects in a more emotional way than children. This is because objects can have a significant impact on an adult’s life, even if the individual is not consciously aware of it.

Individuals can develop an emotional attachment to inanimate objects, such as stuffed toys. This affection is known as ‘Security Blankets’. Anything or anyone that provides comfort and security can be included under this category.

Step 4: Determine if you want to keep this emotional attachment or let it go.

It is possible to “soften” the attachment over time by avoiding big transitions during childhood. Teens who have a strong attachment to an inanimate object may have poorer mental health but usually outgrow this stage.

People develop emotional attachments to their inanimate objects and people should try to detachment from inimate objects and focus on more important things.

Step 5: If you want to keep this emotional attachment, find healthy ways to nurture it.

To keep emotional attachments to inanimate objects healthy, it is important to find healthy ways to nurture the attachment. This can involve finding positive ways to think about the object, such as happy memories associated with it.

It is also important to avoid negative associations with the object, such as unpleasant memories.

Step 6: If you want to let this emotional attachment go, find healthy ways to release it.

When people develop unhealthy emotional attachments to inanimate objects, it is important to release those attachments in a healthy way.

One way to do this is by taking a moment to think about the object and its significance. It can be helpful to stare at the object and think about its intricate carving or design. This can help gain perspective on the attachment.

It is important for individuals struggling with mental health issues to seek help from a professional if they are having difficulty releasing attachments

FAQs

What are the consequences of attachment to inanimate objects?

Many children have a transitional object, usually a stuffed toy or blanket. These attachments are not unhealthy and may lead to a higher level of self-esteem and comfort.

Babies naturally crave close contact with caregivers. Children’s attachment to toys peaks around age 3, but can last into adulthood. Children in Western societies find comfort in transitional objects, such as sleeping alone.

How does attachment to inanimate objects develop?

Children typically attach to objects in order to feel close to someone and the attachment process usually peaks around 3 years of age. However, the process can last into adulthood.

Babies are born wanting to be held and often look for objects that will provide this comfort. In some societies, babies and toddlers use objects to comfort themselves during the fourth trimester. In Western societies, babies and toddlers start to sleep alone more often and may find comfort in transitional objects. These attachments are not harmful and may even provide children with a sense of security and pleasure.

What are the benefits of attachment to inanimate objects?

Weighted or not – Stuffed animals have many benefits. They are often considered objects of great value, making them a comfortable and safe transitional object for many people. Additionally, they make people feel good, relieving stress and providing comfort.

  1. attachment items are not unhealthy: According to the International Journal of Behavioral Development , about 60-70 percent of children have a transitional object, usually a stuffed toy or blanket.
  2. These attachment items can lead to self-esteem and comfort: A child’s attachment to a toy usually peaks at around 3 years of age, but many children maintain strong relationships that last well into adulthood.
  3. The transitional object provides comfort: As babies age, they still feel the urge to be close or cuddled.
  4. The objects are used to ease anxiety and fear in children: Daycares and preschools allow these transitional objects into the classroom with the child to ease that anxiety and fear that comes with evolving into a new environment.
  5. Fight separation: They may be used to fight separation anxiety as a neutral sphere in which experience is not challenged by using their creativity.
  6. They make you feel good: Stuffed animals make people feel good, relieving stress and providing comfort.

What are the different ways we can become attached to inanimate objects?

Different people can have different types of attachment to inanimate objects. This is because we all have different emotions and experiences that we associate with these objects.

For some, it may be a sense of security or comfort that comes from holding a particular stuffed toy. For others, it may be the feeling of nostalgia that is attached to an old blanket from childhood. And for others still, it may be the subconscious attachment to the meaning or symbolism behind a certain carving or piece of art.

Ultimately, our attachments to inanimate objects are reflective of our own individual selves and what we hold dear.

How does attachment to inanimate objects change over time?

According to research, children who do not have an object of attachment tend to behave in a repetitive way around bedtime or when they’re feeling insecure. The object of attachment (usually a toy) is a source of pleasure and security for the child.

The child gradually transitions away from attachments to inanimate objects over time. There is no set rule for when this happens, and it can depend on a variety of factors (e.g. the age of the child, the arrival of a new family member, etc.).

Most children outgrow attachments to inanimate objects by the age of 4. Teens who still have a strong attachment to objects at this stage may have poorer mental health according to some research findings.

Objects over time can change in shape and condition but they often retain their sentimental value even when they’re not in good condition.

Conclusion

It’s normal to be attached to your childhood stuffed animals as an adult. In fact, many people find comfort in them.

However, if your attachment is causing you distress or impacting your life in a negative way, it may be time to seek help and break free from your attachment.

With a little effort, you can overcome this obstacle and live a healthy, happy life.

References

Dozier ME, Ayers CR. Object attachment as we grow older. Curr Opin Psychol. 2021 Jun;39:105-108. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2020.08.012. Epub 2020 Aug 25. PMID: 32971323; PMCID: PMC7445186.

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