Bowlbys Attachment Theory Essay

2798 words - 11 pages

INTRODUCTIONThe essay composition is based on the following issues:An explanation of the principal theoretical framework that will be discussed in the essay;Application of the theory in the case study;Criticism on Bowlby's theory and alternative theories that are applicable in this situation;How and why knowledge of these theories are useful and relevant for social workers;THE EMERGENCE OF ATTACHMENT THEORYAccording to John Bowlby (cited in David, H 1995), many aspects of our personality form during childhood as we experience a constant round of close relationships with parents, family and friends. The kind of adult into which we grow is not only a product of our biological nature, but also the result of the myriad interactions we have with those around us throughout the formative years of our psychological development (Lea S E G (1984), a process known as 'attachment,' an emotional tone that exists between the developing child and the provider or caretaker which is facilitated by interaction usually between the mother and the infant (Hayes, N 1984). As explained by Bowlby, proper attachments and emotional care play an important part in a person's ability to form relationships later in life, whereas physical absence or psychological impairment from the attached person may produce intense anxiety in the infant (Atkinson R 1993). Like many original thinkers, Bowlby recognised that there were fundamentally important issues and potentially deep insights lying behind the seemingly obvious answers to the somewhat fatuous question, why do children who have never had a constant mother figure find relationships so difficult? The obvious answer to say would be something like 'of course a loved child will grow up into a socially competent adult and an unloved child will not'. This answer tells us nothing about how these psychological states work or might come about.Psychoanalysis's 'drive theory' attempted to explain these phe¬nomena in terms of the child's 'libido', the psychic energy that builds up and demands release and gratification and which is the direct mental counterpart of the physiological needs that cause tensions in our body (Hinde, R. A 1963). In the case of young babies, the need to feed brings the infant into a close and powerful relationship with, usually, the mother. The mother, or her breast, can discharge the baby's libido by feeding the child. Any delay or failure to reduce libido is experienced as anxiety (Jones, E 1961). Bowlby comprehensively rejected this analysis and saw attachment as a primary, biologically sponsored behaviour in its own right. The need to be close to a parent-figure, to seek comfort, love and attention from that person, is every bit as basic as the desire for food and warmth (Bowlby 1979).BOWLBY'S THEORY OF MATERNAL DEPRIVATIONIt is worth noticing that Bowlby's development on attachment theory was not just in response to his criticism of psychoanalysis, rather his interest in the work and. ideas of...

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