Consider The Extent To Which Psychological Theories Have Been Successful In Explaining Attatchments Bowlby's Theory Of Attachment

1050 words - 4 pages

The theory of attachment was originally developed by John Bowlby (1907 - 1990). Bowlby was a British psychoanalyst who was attempting to understand the intense distress experienced by infants who had been separated from their parents. Bowlby's first formal statement of the attachment theory, building on concepts from ethology and developmental psychology, was presented to the British Psychoanalytic Society in London in three now classic papers: "The Nature of the Child's Tie to His Mother" (1958), "Separation Anxiety" (1959), and "Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood" (1960).According to Bowlby infants have an innate tendency to become attached to one particular individual. This was referred to as monotropy. During his research Bowlby observed how infants who became separated from their primary caregiver, such as it's mother, would go to extraordinary lengths to either prevent separation from or to restore contact with that caregiver. Behaviours such as crying, clinging and frantic searching were expressed by the infants and observed by Bowlby. At the time, psychoanalytic writers believed that these expressions were immature defence mechanisms, used to repress emotional pain. However, Bowlby noted that such expressions are common to a wide variety of mammals, and speculated that these behaviours may serve an evolutionary function.Influenced by the ethological studies, Bowlby proposed that these behaviours, also known as social releasers, were adaptive responses to separation from a primary attachment figure - a person who provides support, protection, and care. Human infants, like other mammal infants, are unable to feed or protect themselves. They are therefore dependent upon the care and protection of "older and wiser" adults. The central belief to an infant's healthy development is the need for a committed care giving relationship with one or a few adult figures. However, Bowlby continuously emphasized the role of the female parent and had argued that fathers play a minor part during a child's infancy. Additionally, he argued that the father's prime role is to provide emotional and financial support to the child's mother. Bowlby believed that over the course of evolutionary history infants who were able to maintain closeness to an attachment figure by expressing social releasers would be more likely to survive to a reproductive age. Additionally, a parent is programmed to respond positively to the infant's social releasers, therefore, increasing the likelihood of their own genetic line continuing.Bowlby argued that the bond between an infant and its caregiver formed what is known as an internal working model. This would be the building blocks for all of the infants' future relationships. It was believed that if an infant has a good bond with its caregiver then he/she would go on to develop strong and healthy relationships throughout his/hers life. However, if a poor bond was formed then it is likely that the infant would not be...

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