Bryan Post

Jane E. Ryan

Jane E. Ryan, RN, MA, is a nurse, speaker and counselor, with a degree in counseling from Rhode Island College. She has written two books about “Attachment Disorder” and Attachment Therapy:

  • The Boarder: A Novel (2010)
  • Broken Spirits, Lost Souls: Loving Children with Attachment and Bonding Difficulties (2002, 2004; foreword by Foster W. Cline).

Ryan adopted three children; two with “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” One son, adopted at age 4 months, was diagnosed with “RAD” at age nine; he was sent to live in an institution. She has made it her mission to raise awareness about “RAD” and increase treatment services.

Ryan enlisted her community of Revanna, Nebraska, to raise funds with bake sales and various events, so that Ryan could turn her novel, The Boarder, into a movie about living with an adopted child with “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” From the movie’s website, the “Director’s Vision”:

It’s time to wake up and change the way people look at adorable-looking children who act their hurt and rage out first on family members, then later, on society. No one wants to hear this, but children as young as four regularly attempt or kill family pets then threaten to kill thosze [sic] who object. Others stealthily cruise their homes at night setting fires, wielding knives, frightening siblings and worse.

About her movie, Ryan told a reporter, “Practically all the symptoms and all the circumstances that surround RAD show up in one way or another in the script.”

Ryan uses an unofficial definition of Reactive Attachment Disorder (“Attachment Disorder” or AD), which is used by Attachment Therapists. (
For more information on RAD vs. AD.) Ryan also erroneously associates violent and aggressive features to RAD. (For more information.)

Ryan recommends the Attachment Center at Evergreen and holds
Foster Cline in the “highest esteem.” Cline is the Colorado psychiatrist who popularized Attachment Therapy and founded the Attachment Center at Evergreen (ACE; renamed the Institute for Attachment and Child Development). This center has made two Attachment Therapy training tapes – in 1993 and 2006, featuring Attachment Therapists Neil Feinberg and Forrest Lien respectively – both of which, in the opinion of our organization, demonstrate the physically and psychologically-enforced Attachment/Holding Therapy which has been denounced by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the American Psychological Association’s Division on Child Maltreatment, and many other organizations.

The below quotations are all taken from Broken Spirits, Lost Souls: Loving Children with Attachment and Bonding Difficulties, by Jane E. Ryan, Writer’s Showcase Press, 2002, 2004.

In Her Own Words

— Holding Therapy —

Holding Therapy is a part of attachment therapy utilized by several attachment centers across the country... “an across the lap cradling, nurturing hold that provides a safe posture for a child to express whatever feelings they may have. They’re not all rage-filled children....” — p. 251

Jesse states that the first time he saw the intensive attachment therapy [at
Attachment Center at Evergreen] “it was quite provoking. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of emotion and rage that she let out. When it changed to the crying and the sobbing, it really impacted me....” — p. 253

Once a professional receives the special training needed to provide attachment therapy, including the holding process, a team of professionals is needed....The psychologists [
Terry Levy]...believes a well-known approach to treatment, called a ‘two week intensive,’ is sufficient for most children. — p. 247

Eventually she made her way to the
ACE by participating with a client during their “two-week intensive” program....Out of necessity the therapist became less gullible and more confrontive. — p. 242

Pickle continued to explain that the holding posture itself helps the therapist access memories that are stored in the child’s body or in a part of the brain that is inaccessible by talk or cognitive therapy alone. — p. 251

During a holding, however, when old feelings are accessed and the child becomes upset, there is someone there who provides the good nurturing touch that they need so desperately. — pp. 251-252

For over twenty-five years the
Attachment Center at Evergreen has been developing therapeutic methods...The Colorado attachment specialists have believed for about the past decade, “that the therapeutic process utilized here actually helps to develop alternative neural pathways and changes the client’s internal process”...According to former ACE Director, Pickle, the tedious, difficult changes that develop slowly through specialized, intensive therapy combined into what is know as “attachment therapy.” — p. 237

Over the past two decades some of the therapeutic approaches to this difficult problem have been considered somewhat controversial in nature. The severity and dangerousness of some of the behaviors of children with a RAD diagnosis combined with their failure to respond to usual therapeutic approaches has prompted professionals to consider extreme measures. — pp. 237-238

During attachment therapy the control, the person in charge, is transferred from the child to the parent. In appropriate therapy specially trained therapist take control of the youngsters in a firm and loving manner... — p. 250

...One of the more widely known and oftentimes controversial...more cathartic in nature than the current choice in therapies and occasionally utilized physical stimulation to elicit responses from children. Pickle stated that ACE does not employ “Rage Therapy” at all. ...[Paula Pickle] warned, however about “throwing the baby out with the bath water”...

[Terry] Levy added that the [attachment] cycle utilized in rage work has been useful — tension and discharge, rage, sobbing, relaxation, and attachment. — p. 254

[Terry] Levy stated, “We’re not holding these children against their will; we are containing these children as a loving parent contains an infant or toddlers in their arms creating safety and protection and allowing love and caring and empathy to be communicated.” — p. 255

— Dismissing Conventional Therapy —

[A] frustrated mother, probably the only one who really knows the truth... — p. 53

Dr. [Terry] Levy offered his view...most professionals are fooled by them and the children, therefore, go undiagnosed....Levy reiterated that they are impulsive, have little or not remorse or conscience, are hyperactive, angry and rage-filled, hold disdain for much of humanity and respect no one, especially authority, are filled with hate, lie and steal, don’t trust and do not form personal or therapeutic alliances. — pp. 52-53

As traditional therapy is ineffective with AD kids, so are traditional and usual approaches to loving them. — p. 240

Because memories of traumatic events in their early lives remain buried and unknown it is impossible for them to know what, if anything, is the problem. — p. xl

— “Attachment Disorder” vs Reactive Attachment Disorder—

Scholars in the field often distinguish between Reactive Attachment Disorder and Attachment Disorders (AD). I, however do not...and thereby use the terms my experience the differences between the two are insignificant....I do tend to use “RAD” to describe the most severe form of the disorder. — p. xxxiii-xxxiv

RAD is still considered to be rare. However, I believe the statistics sited [sic] in the
DSM-IV fall short. Attachment expert Martha Welch, agrees. She believes all adopted and all foster children have some level of attachment disturbance. — p. 23

Because of ignorance or denial among the professional community, the chances for their identification and treatment or currently slim. — p. 54

— Demonizing Children with “RAD” Diagnosis —

[T]he parents referred to their children by names that were synonymous with Satan such as ‘Damien’ or the “she-devil.” ...they had actually experience their children as evil on many occasions. One of the symptoms, a cold, dead, intimidating stare called “the look” by experienced folks, is equated to a devil’s stare similar to one I saw portrayed on the popular television program “Touched by an Angel.” — p. 62

I proposed an international symposium on Reactive Attachment Disorders be held at the University of Hawai’i....[T]he plan was not accepted because the topic was “too controversial.” I wonder how controversial those untreated RAD adolescents and adults...will be a few years from now while sitting on death row. — p. 356

At the very least, attachment disordered children demonstrate the embryonic stages of a psychopathic personality. At most they are full-blown predatory psychopaths all consumed by their search for yet another victim. — p. xli

There are...striking commonalities between the schoolyard killers and children with Attachment Disorders. — p. 9

AD kids are prepared to do unto others before others get the chance to first do unto them. — p. 25

They are children filled with rage, a white-hot rage that cannot be put out by the soothing love of a family of their own. — p. xxxi

[T]heir pathology is characterized by a “mask of sanity”... — p. 51

Attachment disordered kids can be cute as buttons and charming beyond measure, but they can become their parents, and eventually society’‘s, worst nightmare. ... Although RAD children appear extraordinarily normal, even angelic by some standards, they do not fare well in the close relationships of family….After thirty years of loving attachment-disordered children I believe I have an answer. They seem to be missing that internal element known as the soul. — p. 58

Extremely controlling behaviors, the hallmark of RAD... — p. 74

Going through the motions, pretending to care, or faking feelings for others - those are good descriptors of a child with an attachment disorder. — p. 61

— “Reactive Attachment Disorder” —

The Symptoms [sic] …The following is the list of symptoms [sic] used
in diagnosing
Reactive Attachment Disorder:
• Extreme control problems – Often these behaviors manifest themselves in covert, subtle, or sneaky ways….
• Lacks ability to give and receive affection – Affected infants are not cuddly; backs arch or they become stiff when hugged or cuddled….
• Crazy lying…just for the sake or fun of it….
• Stealing...children are generally sneaky and seldom actually get caught in the act.
• Enuresis …the child consciously urinates on floors, into beds…on another’s clothing, and the like.
• Encopresis…Using feces as a weapon, as a way of getting revenge for real or imagined slights…
• Eating abnormalities…refusing to eat at mealtimes; inability to chew or excessive drooling due to lack of swallowing; stealing and hoarding…gorging large amount of food, possibly followed by vomiting.
• Lack of eye contact… During important exchanges their eye contact is either fleeting or wandering. There are two notable exceptions: when the child is lying or wants something and attempting to manipulate…”The Look,” known to parents of rageful AD children, is a cold, dead-eyed stare that is both intimidating and frightening.
• Extraordinary rage with poor impulse control… have temper tantrums well beyond the second year of life…Those whose anger has gone underground, who express their rage covertly, are no easier to live with, as their rage is expressed in hundreds of mean and sneaky ways….
• Destructive to self and others…Those who intentionally hurt themselves are able to tolerate unusual amounts of pain. Many children sexually abuse siblings and others who they perceive as vulnerable.
• Destruction of property…RAD children seem to derive pleasure and sometimes more energy from destructive behaviors.
• Learning problems and developmental delays…Although many RAD children test high on IQ scales, they are traditionally underachievers, due to their acting out in school. Emotionally, many are ‘stuck’ at the age of the traumatic experience...
• Lacking cause-and-effect thinking...they lack the ability to learn from their own mistakes.... consequences...are ineffectual with these children....
• Poor peer relations and cruelty to others and animals...
• Preoccupied with fire, death, blood, and gore...
• Incessant chatter and/or clingy...can be a way of manipulating others...
• Abnormal speech patterns ...on exception: when children are angry they can be heard and understood...
• Parents appear unusually angry and hostile... — pp. 26-31

— Attachment Therapy Parenting —

[Nancy] Thomas has both developed and taught loving, creative, and successful approaches to parents of those with attachment difficulties. — p. 280

— The Bogus “Attachment Cycle” —

The bonding cycle must be repeated thousands of times over the first year or two of the child’s life in order to reach a positive conclusion. — p. 15

— Claiming Neglect Worse than Abuse —

The observations by [Martha] Welch and [Keith] Kuboyama reinforced my belief that neglected children, rather than abused ones, are the most disturbed of all youngsters. — p. 11

In Utero and Early Attachment —

[I]t is believed to be possible for both attachment and attachment difficulties to start during the prenatal period. — p. 17

— Jane Ryan’s Recommendations —

Acknowledgements My special thanks to the following for their significant contribution to this work…In the early days…Nancy Thomas, Foster Cline, MD, Connell Watkins...Gail Trenberth…ATTACh professionals… — p. xxvii

Foster Cline, M.D., whom I hold in the highest esteem and consider the grandfather of attachment work with seriously disordered children: — p. 14

Cline has remained a leader in the field and has braved skeptical attitudes of professionals and abundant negative public opinion. The diagnosis and treatment of such psychopathic-like children has always been highly controversial and, unfortunately, remains so. — p. 32

Please refer to the “Bibliography” in the back of this volume for more specific information about these and other excellent resources. — p. 280

Keys Attachment Centre [England]...
The Attachment Center at Evergreen [Colorado; renamed Institute for Attachment and Child Development]...
Evergreen Consultants in Human Behavior,
Terry M. Levy...
Foster Cline, MD
Peachtree Attachment Resources
Dan Hughes New England Institute for Attachment and Bonding Intermountain Children’s Home
Villa Santa Maria
Martha G. Welch, MD
Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio
Children Unlimited [South Carolina]
Cascade Center for Family Growth
Ronald S. Federici ATTACh
The Attachment Network of Georgia — pp. 365-375

Foster Cline, Understanding and Treating the Severely Disturbed Child...
Richard J. Delaney and Frank R. Kunstal, Troubled Transplants...
Deborah Hage, Therapeutic Parenting...
Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing...
Ken Magid and Carole A. McKelvey,
High Risk: Children Without a Conscience...
Lynda Gianforte Mansfield and Christopher H. Waldmann,
Don’t Touch My Heart...
Gregory Peck [sic] and R. Kupecky, Adopting the Hurt Child...
Paul Pickle,
Life in the Trenches...
Elizabeth Randolph, Children Who Shock And Surprise...
Nancy Thomas, When Love is Not Enough...
Thomas Verny,
The Secret Life of the Unborn Child...
Nancy Verrier,
The Primal Wound...
Martha G. Welch, Holding Time — pp. 391-395