Daycare and Separation Anxiety: A Brief Overview

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Numerous advances led to Sigmund Freud’s inspirational Stages of Psychosexual Development, and it was Freud that introduced a clear theory explaining the process by which infants develop into adults. The transition from the Oral, Anal and Phallic stages begins to help us understand some of the processes that might lead to understanding attachment issues. Freud argued that humans are born “polymorphously perverse,” the idea that any number of objects could be a source of pleasure. While relief from stress observed in a child might be interpreted as simply the absence of emotional pain, on a deeper level, re-attachment and physical closeness to a caregiver after prolonged separation should result in a pleasurable experience. Setting…show more content…
(Bretherton, 1992) Bowlby reviewed contemporary psychoanalytic explanations about a child’s psychosexual connection to the mother and dismissed the notion that satisfaction of this instinctual drive was a primary driving force of attachment. Expanding on Freud’s idea that mature human sexuality is a collection of individual instinctive behaviors, Bowlby advanced the notion to include the many other instinctual responses that bind mother and infant. The component responses that include sucking, clinging, and following, as well as the gesturing behaviors of smiling and crying develop somewhat independently through the first year of life and become progressively more integrated and fixated on a mother. Bowlby was of the mind that clinging and following was more relevant for attachment than the sucking and crying behaviors, and over time, this line of thinking led Bowlby to a more in depth understanding of bonding behavior in infants and young children. Working with the evidence gleaned from Harlow’s experiments with his Rhesus monkeys, Bowlby came to believe that the traditional theories of attachment could not explain the powerful attachment of infants and young children to a mother figure nor the significant responses related to separation.

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