Attachment Theory

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Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby presents a set of organizing principles for understanding various facets of human psychological aspects. The theory offers a wide spectrum, which encompasses comprehensive theoretical paradigm for understanding diversities amongst relationships. Bowlby rejecting the old theories of attachment highlighted that attachment is not merely an internal drive to satisfy some need. This paper will focus on the seminal work and the principles on which the attachment theory is based. A spin-off theory derived from the original concept is also presented at the end.

Social work is illustrated is engaging in psychosocial evaluation and intervention through various means like therapies. This is performed to bring a change in the behavior, feelings, and attitudes of a person, group or community. It also means engaging in social planning, organization, and administration in a community (Janus, 1985). Various social work theories have been presented over a period of time. These theories have been discussed and researched at length. Most adapted and acceptable theories of all include ecological system theory, community development theory, strength-based approach theory and the theory of attachment (Dummer, Brodwolf & Erath, 2004/2005). Grohol (2005) correlates the theory of attachment with the psychological concept of attachment. He further elucidates the inclination of a person to seek closeness to another person for the purpose of security.

Foundations of the attachment theory are originally laid on observations based on experiments with animals. A series of experiments carried out with infant monkeys reflected that attachment is not simply because of some internal drives like hunger. In these experiments, few young monkeys separated from their mothers shortly after birth, were kept in a cage with two dolls. One of the dolls was made up of wire mesh and the other with foam rubber and cloth. A feeding bottle was also attached with the chest of the doll with mesh wire. Purpose of the experiment was to see which doll was preferred by the monkeys; the one with food or the one with soft touch. It turned out that the monkeys would cling to the soft-clothed doll despite the other doll fulfilling their requirement of food.

Although, the passive doll could not be an adequate alternative for a real mother but it opened new avenues to explore. These studies became basis of the Bowlby's experiments on human. Bowlby (1988) had rejected the old theory of dependency which propagated that the reason a child develops a close tie to his mother is that she feeds him. Drives are postulated of two kinds. Food is considered as the primary drive whereas the personal relationship also called 'dependency', as secondary. Bowlby states that this theory did not seem to me to fit the facts. Having discarded the theory, he needed to provide an alternative or replacement for this theory. As a result, he developed attachment theory which presented organizing principles for understanding many aspects of relationships. Because the theory is broad and comprehensive, it has served as a guiding framework for researchers across diverse areas of psychology.

According to attachment theory, attachment is not just an outcome of the need to satisfy various drives, like Sigmund Freud thought. For example, children are not just attached to their parents because they provide food; their attachment also involves behavior that is independent of their direct needs. Attachment theory assumes that humans are social beings; they do not just use other people to satisfy their drives. In this way, attachment theory is similar to object relations theory (Grohol, 2005).

Holmes (1993) expounding Bowlby's life and work states that there is a strong moral and social vision behind the theory of attachment. He highlights that the emotional deprivation of children is a social ill which eventually results in the...
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