Bowlby's Child Development. Maternal Deprivation Hypothoses

1931 words - 8 pages

'MOTHER LOVE IN INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD IS AS IMPORTANT FOR MAENTAL HEALTH AS ARE VITAMINS AND PROTEINS FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH' (BOWLBY 1953).DESCRIBE AND DISCUSS THE ABOVE QUOTE WITH REFERENCE TO BOWLBY'S WORK.The major and related components of Bowlby's theory of development are concerned with maternal deprivation, especially the effects of separation from their mothers on young children, and the explanation for these effects in terms of the nature of their attachment to her. Bowlby's theories have evolved over a thirty-year period, and any brief résumé is bound to do them less than justice. His later writings are much more theoretical, sophisticated and circumspect than his early writings; however, it was the earlier writings which had the most impact on public opinion.An important aspect of Bowlby's theory is that he believed attachment to be monotropic, which is to one person only. Bowlby acknowledged that children became attached to a number of people, but believed that the principal bond is formed with the mother or permanent mother substitute, and is different in kind from all others. He claimed that the bond develops around the age of seven months to three years, and that this period is known as the critical period. It is this relationship which is essential for the child's security, and it is breaks in this relationship which Bowlby believes leads to psychological disorder. So Bowlby states that mothering cannot be shared; children can only have one mother figure. A young child may be separated from one or both caregivers for a variety of reasons, including divorce, death or hospitalisation. When the separation involves the loss of the primary attachment figure and consequent bond disruption, it is called deprivation. Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis states that if the child experiences prolonged periods of separation such as those already stated, then the child will be at risk of suffering a number of short term and long-term consequences.Robertson and Robertson, who were collaborators of Bowlby's, researched the effects of young children separated from their parents under circumstances such as the child spending time in hospital or being sent to a residential nursery while the mother or main caregiver was in hospital. After having done detailed observations, they suggested that when children are first separated from their mother or mother substitute they go through three stages of reaction known as the syndrome of distress: protest, despair and detachment.During the protest stage children attempt to follow the mother, scream and do everything they can to recover her. They will continue looking for her long after she has gone.During the despair stage they will often sob but in a more helpless way making fewer attempts to find the mother. They tend to show a distinct loss of hope.Finally during the detachment stage they appear calm and even settled. However, this apparent calm often masks underlying distress. The child...

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