Bowlby Attachment Essay

1280 Words6 Pages
The purpose of this essay is to discuss, examine and illustrate reasons for and against research theories that suggest early experiences of children will have an effect on their later development. Namely, the report on Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis by John Bowlby, which was popularised in the post world war two years in the United Kingdom. Psychoanalyst, John Bowlby was commissioned in 1949 by the World Health Organisation, to research whether children residing in institutions, due to the war years, were likely to be suffering from their experiences and what would be the best upbringing for these types of children (Hayes 1993, pp. 52). Bowlby’s research identified a maternal deprivation hypothesis which stated that an infant had to form an attachment to its mother during the first two years of its life, known as the critical period, and if this attachment was disrupted due to deprivation the child would develop irreversible intellectual, social and behavioural problems in later life. Attachment was defined by Mary Ainsworth as a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (, 2011). Bowlby quoted in his 1951 report that mother love in infancy was as important for mental health as was vitamins and proteins for physical health. Bowlby’s theory was influenced with the ethological works of Lorenz’s study on imprinting, the rapid attachment formed as a result of following a moving object shortly after birth, and Harlow’s study on Rhesus Monkeys, which both concluded that attachment to a main care giver in young ducklings and monkeys, respectively, was imperative and instinctive for survival. Bowlby’s research highlighted the idea of monotropy, which suggested that children were genetically programmed to form attachments to their mother, the main care giver, and that it was important for
Open Document