Compiled by Dr. Mark B. Durieux

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Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory Word Cloud

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The concept of infants' emotional attachment to caregivers has been known anecdotally for hundreds of years.

As a theory of socioemotional development , attachment theory has implications and practical applications in social policy, decisions about the care and welfare of children and mental health.

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In his development of attachment theory he propounded the idea that attachment behaviour was essentially an evolutionary survival strategy for protecting the infant from predators.

Although not without its critics, attachment theory has been described as the dominant approach to understanding early social development and to have given rise to a great surge of empirical research into the formation of children's close relationships.

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In 1948, After obtaining his first research funds, Bowlby hired James Robertson to do observations of young children who were hospitalized, institutionalized or otherwise separated from their parents.

It is well-known that Bowlby focused the efforts of his research team on a well-circumscript area: mother-child separation, because separation is a clear-cut event that either happens or does not.;col1

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Research suggests that the adolescent's perception of the parenting behavior may have greater influence on adolescent behavior.

Adolescent exploratory behavior involving positive and negative risks can engender stress or insecurity and prompt the need for "felt security"

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According to Bowlby, attachment keeps the infant close to the mother improving the child’s chances of survival.

When the caregiver of a securely attached child leaves, the child feels secure and is assured that the caregiver will return.

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Because of his former work with maladapted and delinquent children, he became interested in the development of children and started working at the Child Guidance Clinic in London.

The most famous and enduring work of John Bowlby was about attachment styles of infants with primary caretakers (see attachment theory).

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As in the case of language development, information about whether there is a critical or sensitive period for the formation of a secure attachment relationship comes from different sources.

The evidence, then, is consistent with the notion of a sensitive period, rather than a critical period, for the development of the first attachment relationship, rather than a critical one.

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Born in 1907 and raised in the emotionally stifling manner of the traditional British upper-class family, Bowlby rarely saw his mother during the day, and was instead cared for by a nanny.

At seven, again in the tradition of upper-class Britain, young Bowlby was sent off to boarding school, an environment so emotionally impoverished that Bowlby would later write that he “wouldn’t send a dog away” to such a place!

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John Bowlby described crying and smiling, eye contact, cooing, responding to the mother, following, and clinging as attachment behaviors meant to keep a parent close enough for the child to be safe.

Through the interactions, the child develops a mental image of herself and of her expectations of relationships.

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The paper discusses studies on child development, including the Attachment theory.

The paper examines Bowlby's theory of attachment, which has gained wide acceptance among the social work professionals.

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Each study suggested that food and hunger were less important for infants than was the care, comfort and security that attachment to primary caregivers would provide.

In her book, Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation , 13 Ainsworth describes her now widely used protocol, the Strange Situation, and outlines the patterns of secure and insecure attachment in infants.

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Children develop and display distinct attachment styles, which are loosely defined as either "secure" or "insecure."

Attachment behaviors, such as seeking proximity to mother, evincing anxiety when mother moves away, and protesting separation are adaptive mechanisms, not regressive ones.

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Agreeing with Harris (1998), I believe that parents should not be totally held responsible for the way their child develops.

I believe that attachment theory is based more on nurture just because children are guided and directed by their parents for a great percentage of their lives.

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If we assume that adult relationships are attachment relationships, it is possible that children who are secure as children will grow up to be secure in their romantic relationships.

Overall, secure adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships than insecure adults.

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Although Bowlby did not rule out the possibility of other attachment figures for a child, he did believe that there should be a primary bond which was much more important than any other (usually the mother).

Critics such as Rutter have also accused Bowlby of not distinguishing between deprivation and privation – the complete lack of an attachment bond, rather than its loss.

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Bowlby became interested in parent-child attachments in post-World War II Europe after he saw the distress and psychological damage caused by children being separated from their parents due to war and disease.

If the parent is responsive to the child's need for security and safety, the child learns that the parent can be relied upon.

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There are three main components in this section: an outline of attachment theory, applying attachment theory to the three dimensions of loneliness, and the conclusion.

Attachment theory is applicable not only to infants, but also to adults as well.