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"Desperate Housewives" season 7 has seen many complicated plot twists in just the first half of the new season, which has included Gaby (Eva Longoria) suffering from something akin to grief attachment after the loss of her biological daughter. She developed an emotional attachment to an inanimate object—a doll, which reminded her of Grace (Cecilia Balagot), who had moved back to Mexico with the parents who had raised her since she was switched at birth with Juanita (Madison De La Garza).
Gaby's situation may seem unrealistic to some fans of "Desperate Housewives," especially when she risked her life during a carjacking to try and rescue the doll from the car seat in the back; when Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) pulled her out of the vehicle, she screamed "My baby!" repeatedly.
Grief attachment after emotional trauma, which is often linked to the "attachment theory," commonly includes unhealthy emotional attachment to inanimate objects. During the grief process, some people find comfort in surrounding themselves with inanimate objects that are representations of their lost loved ones, and Gaby is certainly mourning the loss of Grace. John Bowlby, a British psychologist who pioneered research into attachment theory, theorized that the ways which infants respond to being separated from their parents is a framework for reactions to love, grief and loneliness in adults. For example, "secure" infants become secure adults who are easily able to bond with others and are comfortable with a codependent relationship.
Is Gaby's grief-inspired attachment to an inanimate object really that unique from her usual relationships with others? In previous seasons of "Desperate Housewives," fans have seen her indulge in an affair after feeling abandoned by her workaholic husband, use her attractiveness and charisma to get her way with others, and have emotional distance between her and her two daughters. In reality, her immediate attachment to Grace is more "out of character" than the subsequent grief and emotional attachment to a doll after the loss of her daughter.
Anthropomorphism is defined as "an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics," and it is generally used to classify the habit of regarding inanimate objects as though they were human. However, Gaby has yet to display any true indication of anthropomorphism—she doesn't speak to the doll as though it is Grace, though when she placed the doll in the car seat for protection, it seemed the writers were headed in that direction. Alternatively, emotional attachment to inanimate objects without grief and loss is frequently linked to autism and Asperger's syndrome. Neither case seems to apply to Gaby, who is without a doubt responding to her grief through emotional attachment to an inanimate object.
Whether Gaby is suffering from grief attachment or another psychological disorder triggered by the loss of Grace, it is refreshing to see the "Desperate Housewives" writers give Eva Longoria a chance to act out some truly emotional scenes. The cast and crew have yet to give any hints about whether or not fans have seen the last of Grace, but we certainly haven't seen the loss of her memory.