Describe and Evaluate Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

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Psychology Assignment Attachment John Bowlby was a British psychoanalyst born in 1907. He believed that mental health and behavioural problems could be attributed to early childhood experiences. He was commissioned by the World Health Organisation to investigate the effects on children’s development of being raised in an institution. To formulate his theory of attachment Bowlby drew on the work of Psychoanalytical theorists and Ethological theorists, such as Konrad Lorenz. ‘The time is ripe for a unification of Psychoanalytical concepts with those of Ethology’ J Bowlby 1953 Bowlby’s theory begins with the idea that we are all born with innate drives, this comes from the Darwinist theory that all characteristics have survival value, Bowlby would consider attachment to be one of these characteristics. Part of these innate drives is the idea that we are all born with social releasers, Social releasers promote attachment between the child and it’s primary care giver (P.C.G). A releaser such as crying elicits care giving from others nearby. The person who responds most sensitively to the child’s releasers will become the P.C.G. The relationship between child and P.C.G becomes the most important in the child’s life. Bowlby described it as ‘Qualitatively different from all other relationships’. The term he used for this relationship is monotropy. The attachment to a primary care giver must be formed in what Bowlby called the critical period, he believed that this critical period lasted for the first 30 -36 months of a child’s life. If the attachment did not occur during this period then it is unlikely to ever occur. Based on this relationship the child forms an internal working model (I.W.M). The child forms a set of ideas about what a relationship should be like, e.g whether love is consistent or inconsistent. They internalise this model and use it as the

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