Disruption in Attachment

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Attachments can often be disrupted between an infant and its primary caregiver and these particular children can find themselves growing up and developing outside the traditional family environment. Thus not forming attachments can have serious impacts on the development of the infant. Disruptions to attachments can take place due to the lack of physical and emotional attachment (Privation) and separation from the primary caregiver. In disruption of attachments there are long-term and short-term effects of separation. In short-term effects of separation, the infants are likely to respond to the separation from their primary attachment figure with a behaviour pattern in three stages; Protest, Despair and Detachment. Robertson and Bowlby investigated the effects of infants separated from their mothers and found that the distress felt by the infants fell into three categories (PDD). Conversely other researchers such as Barrett have argued that the childs initial response to separation is actually the effort to cope with the feelings produced due to separation. Protest is the beginning, when the child starts to cry, scream and protest with rage when the parent leaves them. The infant at this point will try to cling on to the parent and will reject all attempts by others to try and pick them up. Despair, is when the infants anger seems to have calmed down although they may still feel a little upset, the infant will lose interest in the environment around him and will again reject attempts by other people to console the infant. Lastly there is detachment, at this point if the separation has continued the infant will have started to engage with other people but may still seem cautious, they will also reject the caregiver on reunion and engage with signs of anger. The reaction to short-term was shown by Robertson’s in their study of 17 months old John who was placed in a residential nursery for nine days, where he was neither mothered by the nurses nor protected from...
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