Essay on Foundations and Characteristics of Attachment Theory

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Attachment Theory
Attachment theory comes out of the work of John Bowlby. However, it finds its genesis in Freud’s Psychoanalysis. Bowlby himself was trained in psychoanalysis and became a qualified practitioner in the approach. In his early 20s, however, before he enrolled in medical school or in the Institute of Psychoanalysis, he worked with children with behavior problems. These two forces, these experiences, perhaps formed the foundation and later development of his Attachment Theory. Spurred on by the number of children separated from their parents during World War II, Bowlby became interested in the interaction between caretaker and child, and what impact the character of that dynamic had on the development of either healthy or
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Bowlby proposed that there are four characteristics of attachment:
1. Proximity Maintenance: The need to be close to the caregiver.
2. Safe Haven: The attachment figure’s availability when the child is experiencing distress.
3. Secure Base: Where the caregiver provides a base from which the child can securely explore the local environment.
4. Separation Distress: The anxiety that occurs when the child is separated from their caregiver.
In assessing these characteristics—which was the purpose of Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure—one could conclude what type of attachment was operating.
Types and Causes of Attachment Styles Bowlby and Ainsworth determined that attachment styles could be effectively differentiated into four distinct categories based on the observed attachment behaviors, behaviors that were based on the attachment characteristics. These styles, though not necessarily reflecting a true spectrum, do represent a brief array that includes a healthy schema of attachment, a severely dysfunctional schema, and two others that fall between. The styles are described by the nature of the manifestation of the characteristic.

1. Secure Attachment Style: The child can use the attachment figure for a secure base for exploration of their environment. Protests caregiver's departure and seeks proximity and is comforted on return; returns to exploration after soothing. May be comforted by a stranger but shows definitive preference for the caregiver.
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