Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder learn they are most effective at taking care of themselves when they use RAD loyalty; i.e. no loyalty at all.
RAD Loyalty Means no Loyalty at All
Let’s see… Military Intelligence, Jumbo Shrimp, Elementary Calculus, Family Vacation, Gentlemen’s Club, Government Organization, and… RAD Loyalty. Did you guess the subject? Yep. Oxymorons. It has been said that it’s almost impossible to prove that something does not exist. I would suggest an exception to that thinking. I believe it would be pretty easy to prove that nonexistence of loyalty in Reactive Attachment Disorder is as logically achieved as the absurdity of Holy War.
The lack of loyalty, i.e. RAD Loyalty, is ruthless, ugly and devastating. For me, it was infuriating, at least until I understood the heartbreaking reasons for its existence.
That isn’t to say that a child who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder is never loyal. They are. But when they are, it is my belief that they are acting outside of their curse and more like what we are trying to help them achieve. Hopefully, those times of loyalty increase over time. Hopefully, they become the norm. At least until that happens, life in our families seems, at times, unbearable. The lack of loyalty, i.e. RAD Loyalty, is ruthless, ugly and devastating. For me, it was infuriating, at least until I understood the heartbreaking reasons for its existence. I once wrote an article about signs when you have the wrong therapist for Reactive Attachment Disorder. In it I talked about a time when one of my daughters told her therapist that I was kicking and bruising her. That untruth left me devastated, even when after the medical exam, my daughter admitted to the doctor that she had lied because she was angry with me the night she had therapy.
Today I want to talk about RAD Loyalty (more correctly, the lack thereof) and why.
Of course I knew that for parents of children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder, I was adding my name to a long and distinguished list when my daughter made false accusations about me. I also knew that I was lucky. Many parents end up in dire straits when a child refuses to admit that they lied. While many adopted and foster children have truly been abused, there are also parents serving prison terms because our society tends to believe abuse accusations no matter the likelihood. An appeal to compare the child’s honesty record to the parent(s)’ generally goes unheeded and parents are forced to prove a lack of abuse. Again… proving that something does not exist is extremely difficult. But that’s not the point of this article. Today I want to talk about RAD loyalty (more correctly, the lack thereof) and why.
These children not only learn that they can survive without help, but that really, they are fairly good at it, if only they stick to RAD loyalty, which means no loyalty at all.
First of all, most children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder have been taught from their earliest moments that there is no such thing as loyalty. Parents or parent-figure-caregivers have taught them that they are on their own. If they survive, it will only be because they take care of themselves, using everything they possibly can to gain advantage. These children not only learn that they can survive without help, but that really, they are fairly good at it, if only they stick to RAD loyalty, which means no loyalty at all. Of course they believe that they are being loyal at any given moment, but as moments and needs change, so does RAD loyalty.
One way they choose to show RAD loyalty to those whom they are grooming is by throwing the current parents under the bus.
Secondly, children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder tend to put all of their eggs in one basket. It seems to be the only way they can keep track of the eggs. It’s ironic because they truly believe beyond doubt that every basket breaks. When a basket breaks, they find another basket. That is what leads them to constantly shop for parents. Of course these kids understand that in order to get someone to care for them, the person needs to believe that they are loyal. Often they try to demonstrate loyalty to a person whom they are grooming to be their next parent by convincing them that they are the only one who has ever earned their trust; that the prospective parent is the only one who has never betrayed the child. One way they choose to show RAD loyalty to those whom they are grooming is by throwing the current parents under the bus. Once this happens, the child understands the damage they have caused and then, often, there is panic. They realize that their parents’ trust has been damaged and now they can trust the parents even less than their disorder allowed them to trust before the betrayal. This can create a vicious repetitive cycle.
When my daughter’s favorite staff member digs in their heels, RAD loyalty takes over and she sends them down the river.
We all know that our children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder feel a need to be in control. This brings up the third reason for RAD loyalty and no loyalty. My oldest daughter has the worst case of Reactive Attachment Disorder with which I have had personal involvement. Of course that isn’t to say it’s the worst there is. Another feature of her challenges involves a low IQ, somewhere in the mid-sixties. This has added dramatically to what I have been able to learn about Reactive Attachment Disorder. You see, my daughter isn’t quite as good at covering her tracks as a genius would be. (Heaven help you poor parents who care for a child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder and who is also a genius!) Though we are still very involved with her, and she is still an important member of our family, my daughter has lived in a series of institutional settings and group homes since she was removed from our home at sixteen. I watch her. With clock-like regularity she picks out a favorite staff member whom she believes she can most easily manipulate. She gets the staff member to purchase her extra-good behavior by allowing her to break minor rules. She also watches for other rules that the staff member might break and files them away for future use. As time goes on, the staff member is forced into letting my daughter break more and more significant rules. Somewhere between going to bed late and homicide, the staff member is forced to enforce the rules. When my daughter’s favorite staff member digs in their heels, RAD loyalty takes over and she sends them down the river.
Relationship sabotage is the fourth reason I have tied to RAD loyalty.
Of course, when the staff member digs in, my daughter knows that she can no longer manipulate them to get what she wants. This means she has lost control. Nothing causes my daughter more fear than a loss of control. Also, she is truly attaching to her favorite (manipulate-able) staff member. The level of attachment also scares my daughter (after all, that’s the core of Reactive Attachment Disorder) and so she knows that with disloyalty she can sabotage the relationship and the attachment. Relationship sabotage is the fourth reason I have tied to RAD loyalty.
The hardest part about RAD loyalty is that often, all of the reasons overlap, interweave, and work simultaneously until we don’t know why our child is so disloyal or what is causing it. I guess it suffices to say that disloyalty can be associated with almost every facet of Reactive Attachment Disorder. We can be disappointed when we see the appearance of RAD loyalty, but I guess we can never be surprised.
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