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Attachment Theory (Bowlby)

A Simple Model of Infant-Mother Attachment

❶Repeated sequences of attachment signals and corresponding caregiving behavior are internalized and later on become mentally accessible.

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Attachment Theories

The biggest challenge to the notion of the universality of attachment theory came from studies conducted in Japan where the concept of amae plays a prominent role in describing family relationships. Arguments revolved around the appropriateness of the use of the Strange Situation procedure where amae is practiced. Ultimately research tended to confirm the universality hypothesis of attachment theory. Critics in the s such as J.

Harris , Steven Pinker and Jerome Kagan were generally concerned with the concept of infant determinism nature versus nurture , stressing the effects of later experience on personality. Kagan argued that heredity was far more important than the transient developmental effects of early environment. For example, a child with an inherently difficult temperament would not elicit sensitive behavioural responses from a caregiver.

The debate spawned considerable research and analysis of data from the growing number of longitudinal studies. Subsequent research has not borne out Kagan's argument, possibly suggesting that it is the caregiver's behaviours that form the child's attachment style, although how this style is expressed may differ with the child's temperament. Rudolph Schaffer concluded that parents and peers had different functions, fulfilling distinctive roles in children's development.

Mentalization, or theory of mind, is the capacity of human beings to guess with some accuracy what thoughts, emotions and intentions lie behind behaviours as subtle as facial expression. Object relations models which emphasise the autonomous need for a relationship have become dominant and are linked to a growing recognition within psychoanalysis of the importance of infant development in the context of relationships and internalized representations.

Psychoanalysis has recognized the formative nature of a child's early environment including the issue of childhood trauma. A psychoanalytically based exploration of the attachment system and an accompanying clinical approach has emerged together with a recognition of the need for measurement of outcomes of interventions.

One focus of attachment research has been the difficulties of children whose attachment history was poor, including those with extensive non-parental child care experiences. Concern with the effects of child care was intense during the so-called "day care wars" of the lateth century, during which some authors stressed the deleterious effects of day care.

Although only high-quality child care settings are likely to provide this, more infants in child care receive attachment-friendly care than in the past. The English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team, led by Michael Rutter , followed some of the children into their teens, attempting to unravel the effects of poor attachment, adoption, new relationships, physical problems and medical issues associated with their early lives.

Studies of these adoptees, whose initial conditions were shocking, yielded reason for optimism as many of the children developed quite well.

Researchers noted that separation from familiar people is only one of many factors that help to determine the quality of development. Authors considering attachment in non-Western cultures have noted the connection of attachment theory with Western family and child care patterns characteristic of Bowlby's time. For example, changes in attitudes toward female sexuality have greatly increased the numbers of children living with their never-married mothers or being cared for outside the home while the mothers work.

This social change has made it more difficult for childless people to adopt infants in their own countries. There has been an increase in the number of older-child adoptions and adoptions from third-world sources in first-world countries. Adoptions and births to same-sex couples have increased in number and gained legal protection, compared to their status in Bowlby's time.

Principles of attachment theory have been used to explain adult social behaviours, including mating, social dominance and hierarchical power structures, in-group identification, [] group coalitions, and negotiation of reciprocity and justice.

While a wide variety of studies have upheld the basic tenets of attachment theory, research has been inconclusive as to whether self-reported early attachment and later depression are demonstrably related.

In addition to longitudinal studies, there has been psychophysiological research on the biology of attachment. In psychophysiological research on attachment, the two main areas studied have been autonomic responses , such as heart rate or respiration, and the activity of the hypothalamic—pituitary—adrenal axis.

Infants' physiological responses have been measured during the Strange Situation procedure looking at individual differences in infant temperament and the extent to which attachment acts as a moderator. There is some evidence that the quality of caregiving shapes the development of the neurological systems which regulate stress.

Another issue is the role of inherited genetic factors in shaping attachments: One theoretical basis for this is that it makes biological sense for children to vary in their susceptibility to rearing influence. 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.

Social policies concerning the care of children were the driving force in Bowlby's development of attachment theory. The difficulty lies in applying attachment concepts to policy and practice. Zeanah and colleagues stated, "Supporting early child-parent relationships is an increasingly prominent goal of mental health practitioners, community-based service providers and policy makers Attachment theory and research have generated important findings concerning early child development and spurred the creation of programs to support early child-parent relationships.

Historically, attachment theory had significant policy implications for hospitalized or institutionalized children, and those in poor quality daycare.

It is plain from research that poor quality care carries risks but that those who experience good quality alternative care cope well although it is difficult to provide good quality, individualized care in group settings. Attachment theory has implications in residence and contact disputes, [] and applications by foster parents to adopt foster children. In the past, particularly in North America, the main theoretical framework was psychoanalysis.

Increasingly attachment theory has replaced it, thus focusing on the quality and continuity of caregiver relationships rather than economic well-being or automatic precedence of any one party, such as the biological mother. Rutter noted that in the UK, since , family courts have shifted considerably to recognize the complications of attachment relationships. Judgements need to take this into account along with the impact of step-families. Attachment theory has been crucial in highlighting the importance of social relationships in dynamic rather than fixed terms.

Attachment theory can also inform decisions made in social work , especially in humanistic social work Petru Stefaroi , [] [] and court processes about foster care or other placements. Considering the child's attachment needs can help determine the level of risk posed by placement options. Many researchers in the field were strongly influenced by it.

Although attachment theory has become a major scientific theory of socioemotional development with one of the widest research lines in modern psychology, it has, until recently, been less used in clinical practice.

The attachment theory focused on the attention of the child when the mother is there and the responses that the child shows when the mother leaves, which indicated the attachment and bonding of the mother and the child.

The attention therapy is the done while the child is being restrained by the therapists and the responses displayed were noted. The tests were done to show the responses of the child. This may be partly due to lack of attention paid to clinical application by Bowlby himself and partly due to broader meanings of the word 'attachment' used amongst practitioners. It may also be partly due to the mistaken association of attachment theory with the pseudoscientific interventions misleadingly known as " attachment therapy ".

In , Bowlby published a series of lectures indicating how attachment theory and research could be used in understanding and treating child and family disorders. His focus for bringing about change was the parents' internal working models, parenting behaviours and the parents' relationship with the therapeutic intervenor. They range from individual therapy to public health programmes to interventions designed for foster caregivers.

For infants and younger children, the focus is on increasing the responsiveness and sensitivity of the caregiver, or if that is not possible, placing the child with a different caregiver. Some programmes are aimed at foster carers because the attachment behaviours of infants or children with attachment difficulties often do not elicit appropriate caregiver responses.

Modern prevention and intervention programmes have proven successful. One atypical attachment pattern is considered to be an actual disorder, known as reactive attachment disorder or RAD, which is a recognized psychiatric diagnosis ICD F Against common misconception, this is not the same as 'disorganized attachment'. The essential feature of reactive attachment disorder is markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts that begins before age five years, associated with gross pathological care.

There are two subtypes, one reflecting a disinhibited attachment pattern, the other an inhibited pattern. RAD is not a description of insecure attachment styles, however problematic those styles may be; instead, it denotes a lack of age-appropriate attachment behaviours that may appear to resemble a clinical disorder.

It may also be used to refer to proposed new classification systems put forward by theorists in the field, [] and is used within attachment therapy as a form of unvalidated diagnosis. As attachment theory offers a broad, far-reaching view of human functioning, it can enrich a therapist's understanding of patients and the therapeutic relationship rather than dictate a particular form of treatment. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. History of attachment theory. Reactive attachment disorder and Attachment disorder.

Atlas personality Attachment parenting Attachment theory and psychology of religion Fathers as attachment figures Human bonding Nurture kinship.

Makers of modern psychotherapy. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. Disciplinary and cultural contexts". European Journal of Developmental Psychology. Attachment across the lifecourse: Theory, Research and Clinical Applications. Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence and Practice. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. New York and London: Social and Personality Development Sixth Edition. Oxford and New York: Infant Care and the Growth of Love.

Johns Hopkins University Press. Eighteen Points with Suggestions for Future Studies". This position can be presented in a stronger form, in which a particular figure is believed continually to take top place "monotropy" Parenting, child care, and emotional development.

United States of America: Cultural Perspectives on a Western Theory. A psychological study of the strange situation. Theory, Coding, and Scores". A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Evidence of disorganized representational strategies and aggression at home and at school". Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Social Development in Childhood pp.

In Greenberg, Mark T. Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research, and Intervention. University of Chicago Press. From Infancy to Middle Childhood". Promoting a secure attachment through early assessment and interventions. Keeping the Baby in Mind, pp. Chicago University Press, pp. Routledge, London and New York. A review and meta-analysis of a transmission gap. Intergenerational transmission of dysregulated maternal caregiving: Mothers describe their upbringing and child rearing.

Theory, research, and clinical implications pp. Work Group on Quality Issues. Archived from the original PDF on August 24, Retrieved September 13, Developmental Psychology 24 3: Attachment, Parenting and Child Safety, London: Mothers' experience, self-protective strategies, and dispositional representations". Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Psychotherapy of abused and neglected children 2nd ed. Attachment security in infants at-risk for autism spectrum disorders. Retrieved 1 December A taxometric analysis of strange situation behavior".

Comment on Fraley and Spieker ". Gunnar M, Sroufe T, eds. Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology. The Ontogeny of Attachment". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

An attachment theoretical perspective". Theoretical developments, emerging controversies, and unanswered questions". Review of General Psychology. What do we really know about the self in relation to others? Basic concepts and contemporary questions". Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Their characters and home life".

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. A History of Psychoanalysis. Deprivation of Maternal Care: A Reassessment of its Effects. Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory. Retrieved July 13, An annotated interview with Robert Hinde". Their application to the study of attachment".

The development of attachment and affiliative systems. A means of communication". Ethological studies of child behaviour. In the absence of critical evidence derived from observing man such hypotheses are no more than intelligent guesses. There is a danger in human ethology Theory based on superficial analogies between species has always impeded biological understanding Psychoanalytic Study of the Child.

Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, serial no. Time for a reunion". Attachment and object relations theories and the concept of independent behavioral systems". A Move to the Level of Representation". Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. Child Psychiatry and Human Development. The Qualities of Mothering. Predictable from infant attachment classifications and stable over a 1-month period".

Attachment theory emphasizes the importance of a secure and trusting mother-infant bond on development and well-being. Attachment is described as a long lasting psychological connection with a meaningful person that causes pleasure while interacting and soothes in times of stress. The quality of attachment has a critical effect on development, and has been linked to various aspects of positive functioning, such as psychological well-being [1].

Bowlby began his journey to attachment theory through research he conducted on child delinquents and hospitalized children. Bowlby believed that children have an innate need to develop a close relationship with one main figure, usually the mother.

When this does not occur, it has negative consequences on development, causing a decline in intelligence, depression, aggression, delinquency, and affectionless psychopathy a situation in which one is not concerned about the feelings of others [2]. Following the above conclusions regarding maternal deprivation, Bowlby sought to develop a theory which would support and explain his results.

He felt that existing theories on attachment from psychoanalytic and behavioral fields were detached from reality and not up to date, thus he began reading into and corresponding with current researchers in the fields of biology and ethology. These results stand in contrast to classic approaches to attachment which believed that the goal of attachment was the fulfillment of needs, particularly feeding.

Newborn infants know to act in such a way that attracts adults, such as crying, smiling, cooing, and making eye contact. Although not attached to their mothers yet, they are soothed by the presence of others. These children may find it hard to let adults come close enough to establish trusting relationships. There are a number of approaches that target aspects of caregiving which promote security. The attachment style of the adult who provides substitute care for the child is also an important consideration.

Carers need to be skilled at helping children to manage very strong feelings and need to be in touch with their own feelings. Young children who are removed from harm and provided with secure caregiving are able to form an attachment to their new carer.

Infants who have frequent contact with their birth family may suffer constant disruption to their daily routines and may be unable to experience the kinds of settled caregiving they need to help repair the harm they have experienced. Such contact arrangements can produce high levels of stress for the infant through discontinuity of care and potentially insensitive care during contact. Download these notes in the topic PDF: Methods Suitable for self—directed learning or reflection with a colleague or supervisor.

Learning Outcome Review your understanding of attachment theory and identify actions you can take to support a child. Process Thinking of your current approach, answer the following questions. Learning Outcome Review current provision and identify actions that can enhance the support provided to foster carers and adopters. Learning Outcome To identify a range of actions that can support a child to develop healthy attachments.

Process Ask the group to discuss the following questions and appoint a person who can feedback their ideas. Back to tabs The impact of early life attachment on child development. Exercise for social workers Download these notes in the topic PDF: Methods Suitable for a small group discussion in a team meeting or as part of a facilitated workshop.

Individuals will need a copy of the case study for Toby. Learning Outcome To identify the impact of early life attachment and assess the support that may be required to enable Toby to form secure attachments.

Process Give each group a hand-out of the case study for Toby and ask each group to appoint someone to feedback their ideas. Methods Suitable for a small group discussion during a team meeting or as part of a workshop. Process Give each group a hand-out of the case study for Toby.

Ask each group to appoint someone to feedback their ideas. Back to tabs Presentation slide deck Download the slides as a PowerPoint Alternative PowerPoint format:

Stages of Attachment

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Prospective research is needed examining the extent to which adult attachment styles predict both parenting behaviors and infant attachment (see Mayseless, Sharabany, & Sagi, , and Volling, Notaro, & Larsen, , for mixed evidence concerning parents' adult attachment style as a predictor of infant attachment).

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The attachment behavior system is an important concept in attachment theory because it provides the conceptual linkage between ethological models of human development and modern theories on emotion regulation and personality.

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For example, the research influenced the theoretical work of John Bowlby, the most important psychologist in attachment theory. It could also be seen a vital in convincing people about the importance of emotional care in . Attachment theory is centered on the emotional bonds between people and suggests that our earliest attachments can leave a lasting mark on our lives.

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Attachment theory and research: Resurrection of the psychodynamic approach to personality Basic concepts in attachment theory and researchAccording to Bowlby for empirically examining such propositions and producing a solid body of empirical evidence that contributes to a resurrection of the psychodynamic approach to personality. Attachment Theory (Bowlby) 2 years ago • Child Development Theories, Learning Theories & Models • 1 Summary: Attachment theory emphasizes the importance of a secure and trusting mother-infant bond on development and well-being.