The Application of the Theory of Attachment

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The Application of the Theory of Attachment

Many psychologists have come and gone, and many different theoretical orientations have been developed. With each orientation has come a new perspective on development, behaviour and mental processes. Some are similar, yet others could not be more contradictory. Attachment is one such theoretical orientation, developed by John Bowlby out of his dissatisfaction with other existing theories. Although Bowlby rejected psychoanalytical explanations for early infant bonds, the theory of attachment was influenced in part by the principles of psychoanalysis; in particular the observations by Ana Freud and Dorothy Burlingham of young children separated from
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In the first few months of life, the sole purpose of any child’s behaviour is to survive. This, more often than not, results in actions that reduce the risk of harm and increase the chances of longevity. Of these behaviours, some argue that the most influential is attachment behaviour. “Attachment behaviour is any form of behaviour that results in a person attaining or maintaining proximity to some other clearly identified individual who is conceived as better able to cope with the world”(Bowlby, 1982). Therefore, children will make an effort to stay close to and under the protection of their primary caregiver. According to Webster, “through interactions with their primary caregiver, the child develops expectations and understandings about the workings of relationships. These mental representations of relationships become internalized to the degree that they influence feelings, thought and behaviour automatically and unconsciously” (1999, p.6). Moreover, the response of the identified individual plays a huge role in the child’s perception of the outside world. If the caregiver responds to the child’s needs in a caring and protective manner, the child will feel safe and comfortable in his or her surroundings. If, on the other hand, the caregiver is often emotionally and/or physically unavailable, the child is likely to
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