This paper will explore the way in which an infant develops a loving relationship with his mother from birth through middle school. While the majority of this paper is based upon Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and the work upon which his research was based, it incorporates classical theories of physical development, social development, social learning and cognitive development. The biological, learning, social cultural, cognitive, and psychodynamic influences will be explored.
All animals undergo a process of bonding with its parent that serves as a protective mechanism to ensure the continuance of the species. Human infants bond as matter of instinct. The bonding process begins at birth with those initial bonds being strengthened through the nuturing and social learning processes.
Physiologically, bonding with a parent is both a genetic factor and a process of neurological programming that results in a parent-child attachment. Genetic factors influence the way in which a child reacts to stressors in the environment or otherwise experiences the world. These genetic factors are demonstrated through the personality and behavioral patterns of the individual. The child discussed in this study has a polymorphism of the DRD2 dopamine receptor that is also present in his mother. This characteristic is linked to the development of an anxious personality.
Other studies have focused on heart and respiration rates or the reactions of the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal interactions. These studies have noted that there is a difference between children who have formed an attachment with a parent and those who have not when they are exposed to an unfamiliar situation. The child under consideration in this study would be expected to seek out the familiarity of an interaction with his own mother to an interaction with a person unknown to him. A familiar interaction would be more likely to remedy a state of great arousal that would be produces by his own anxious make up.
By definition, attachment refers to an affectionate bond that develops between an individual and, in the case of a child, a caregiver. While attachment between adults in usually a mutual phenomenon, children attach to a parent instinctually as a means of seeking safety and protection. These needs or primal and are heightened in infants.
According to Piaget, the issue of affection and attachment in infancy is related to the developing concept of object permanence. Object permanence is defined as the ability of the child to recognize that an object is temporarily missing. Young infants do not yet differentiate objects in their environment as separate from themselves. If mother is present in the child’s awareness, she is part of the overall environment of safety that the child recognizes as familiar. Her absence is responded to in much the same manner as if a part of the child was missing. When the infant that is part of this...