John Bowlby's Attachment Theory

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To be a successful parent means a lot of very hard work. Looking after a baby or toddler is a twenty-four-hour-a-day job seven days a week.’
(John Bowlby, 2008).

The purpose of this essay will be to discuss the attachment theory concept that was coined by psychoanalyst John Bowlby. It’s relevance to child and adolescent behaviour will also be evaluated in this essay. Attachment was defined by Bowlby as ‘any form of behaviour that results in a person attaining or maintaining proximity to some other clearly defined individual who is conceived as better able to cope with the world’ (Bowlby 1998). Bowlby was of the opinion that behavioural issues in children could be attributed to early childhood.

In 1907, John Bowlby was born in London in the
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These were the first representations of Bowlby’s attachment theory. In his first paper, Bowlby reviewed Freud’s (1950-1953) notion that mature human sexuality is built up of component instincts. These instinctual responses carry the function of binding the infant to the mother, and the mother to the infant. These responses including sucking clinging and signalling behaviours like smiling and crying all develop independently during the infants first year of life, and become more and more integrated during the second half of year one. Separation Anxiety (Bowlby, 1959), his second paper, continues the observations by Robertson (1953). Three phases of separation had been identified – protest, despair, (relating to grief and mourning), and denial. Bowlby maintained the idea that infants and children experience separation anxiety when a situation activated both escape and attachment behaviour, when an attachment figure is not available (Bretherton,…show more content…
Bowlby and Robertson (1952) suggested that short-term separation from the primary attachment figure could lead to distress. Bowlby conducted a little experiment called the ’44 Juvenile Thieves Study’. During this experiment, he examined 44 delinquent juvenile adolescents in a child guidance clinic to test his hypothesis that distress in the child’s life during adolescence occurred because of short term separation (Powers, 1948). To test this hypothesis, Bowlby investigated the long-term effects of maternal deprivation. An additional group of 44 children were selected to act as a control group in the experiment. The control group arrived at the clinic for emotional issues, as none had not yet committed any crimes. Interviews with the parents of the control group and the actual juvenile adolescents took place so that Bowlby could determine if separation had taken place during early childhood, and if so how long the separation lasted. One finding from this experiment is that over half of the juvenile thieves had be distanced from their mothers for more than half a year during the initial 5 years of their life. In addition to this, 32% of the juveniles displayed some signs of affectionless psychopathy, meaning they showed no care for anyone, whereas not one person part of the control group showed any

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