Attachment Theory Essay

2229 words - 9 pages

To gain a better insight of attachment theory Mary S. Ainsworth developed a concept unfolding the underlying behaviors infants display towards their mothers. Without a mother infant bond, insecure attachment can develop causing psychological and emotional stresses. However, a maternal bond is needed for a healthy development in an infant, without the necessary mother infant bond negative behaviors can arise leading to difficulties in relationships, negative behaviors, and an anxious attachment beyond infancy caused by a lack of the care giving system. In order for children to thrive, infants need to experience healthy nurturing relationships with their mother or caregiver. Nevertheless, without a mother infant attachment bond the growth and development of personality would be non-existent to the infant or child. “First attachments are usually formed by 7 months, attachments are formed to only a few individuals, and virtually all infants become attached” (Main, 1996, p. 237).
For the explanation of attachment, family factors do play an imperative role for a positive development in a mother infant attachment bond. Studies show that an individual who has a healthy relationship with parents will have a positive or nurturing relationship with their peers (Richters & Walters, 1991). Individuals who are alienated growing up are more prone to the development of eating disorders or self-harm behaviors that had negative experiences growing up in a house hold with conflicts, or lack of socialization skills (Richters & Walters, 1992). For instance, “children may struggle growing up with a sense of self that is incomplete, or damaged, if their parents were not emotionally supportive, which in turn, may prompt them to seek destructive eating disorder behavior” (Cheng & Mallinckrodt, 2009, p. 372).
“Attachment theory is extended to pertain to developmental changes in the nature of children’s attachments to parents and surrogate figures during the years beyond infancy, and to the surrogate figures during the years beyond infancy, and to the nature of other affectional bonds throughout the life cycle” (Ainsworth, 1989, p.709). Mother infant attachment plays an import role is psychosocial and behavioral dispositions.
Attachment beyond infancy
Bowlby distinguishes four main levels in the development of attachment behavior. Phase (1) orientation and signals without discrimination of figure; Phase (2) orientation and signals directed toward one or more discriminated figures; Phase (3) maintenance of proximity to a discriminated figure by means of locomotion; Phase (4) formation of a reciprocal relation (Ainsworth, 1969, p. 30). Phase (1) during the first few weeks of infancy, demonstrates ways to discriminate from one another, by responding with grasping, smiling, and crying by responding to tactile functions and stimuli. Phase (2) infant behaves in the same way as phase one, but in a discrete fashion by displaying behaviors by mothers voice, such...

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