John Bowlby Theory

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John Bowlby was born in London in 1907. He studied and trained in psychoanalysis when it was still a new discipline (Crain 2011). Bowlby became interested in attachment when he undertook voluntary work at a school for maladjusted children. He began to notice a correlation between bad behaviour in children and the challenging backgrounds from which they came. It was his experience with two particular children, who came from such backgrounds, that was to shape the direction of his future career (Ainsworth 1974). In 1936 Bowlby, while working with children in institutions such as orphanages, became one of the first psychiatrists to work in the area of child guidance. It was during this period that Bowlby started to make the connection between…show more content…
Freud later on in his career recognised the importance of the mother in the development of an infant. He believed that this relationship was unique and would provide the template for the infant’s future loving relationships (Green and Piel 2010). Freud stated that an infant forms an attachment bond with a person, who is usually the mother, or an object, who feeds and provides oral satisfaction as a result (Berryman et al 1997). Bowlby agreed that infants attach to one main caregiver and that this is usually the mother. He called this monotropy. However Schaffer and Emmerson’s (1964) research dismissed this. They studied fifty-eight Scottish infants and found that by the time the infant turns eighteen months only thirteen percent had only one attachment figure. Bowlby took on board this research (Meins 1997), and came to believe that monotropy allows for other attachment relationships, but places the mother’s attachment relationship at the top, as it forms the basis for all future relationships (Bowlby 1988). Research by Mary Ainsworth and Schaffer and Emmerson, support Bowlby’s revised theory of monotropy. Ainsworth, in her study on infants in Ganda, found that by nine or ten months the majority of infants were showing attachment behaviours to multiple people but showed a preference for one attachment figure. Schaffer and Emmerson found that although an infant had more than one attachment figure, they…show more content…
Research in the aforementioned studies showed that it was possible for the primary attachment figure to be the father. Schaffer and Emmerson found that in one case the grandmother was the primary attachment figure as she minded the child. This research shows that although the mother is usually the principal attachment figure it is possible for the role to filled by others (Johnson and Northedge 2008). This is important as it means that a father can be a child’s principal attachment figure and with the number of stay-at-home dads in Ireland on the rise (Harris 2014), it is reassuring to know that this will not be to the detriment of the
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