John Bowlby- Attachment Theory

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John Bowlby: Attachment Theory
Laura Johnson
COUNS 605A
March 10, 2012

Historical Background
Edward ‘John’ Mostyn Bowlby was born in London on February 26, 1907 and died in 1990, one of the middle children of six siblings, to upper class parents. John’s father was a surgeon to royalty, later knighted first Baronet, only saw the children on Sundays. John’s mother believed parental attention and affection would lead to dangerous spoiling of the children, as was customary of the day, and only saw the children a short period each day, preferring to leave the upbringing to a strict and methodical nanny and nursemaid. John was allegedly the nanny’s favorite; however, she left when he was about four. At about 11 years of age, John and his brother were sent off to a boarding school. After boarding school, John went to Dartmouth, Royal Naval College. At 17, John decided that the Navy was not fulfilling and went to Trinity College in Cambridge, to study medicine and psychology, where he graduated in 1928. Instead of clinical school, at 21 years of age John taught at a boarding school for maladjusted children. From this experience he decided to combine psychoanalytic and medical training. In 1933 at 22, John became medically qualified at University College Hospital and then decided to train in adult psychiatry at Maudsley Hospital. In 1936, and he went to train at the London Child Guidance Clinic and then became Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps in psychiatry during WWII. After that he settled into a career as Deputy Director at the Travistock Clinic, and also, in 1950, Mental Health Consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO). Key Concepts of Attachment Theory

In the late 1930’s, Bowlby attempted to create one logical theory from many ways of thinking about attachment and the issues of separation between mother and child. Bowlby believed that attachment behaviors are instinctive and evolutionary that supports the mother-child proximity, which encourages the child’s survival, especially when the child is faced with stressful situations as a self-protective strategy. This theory centers on the mother and the child before the age of three. Bowlby theorized that a young child has a need to attach to one caretaker, preferably the mother, called monotropy. This type of attachment needs to be reciprocal and has to happen during the first three years of life, otherwise, positive future social, emotional, intellectual and social development are in jeopardy. For the first two years of life, Bowlby stressed that this key attachment figure needs to be the consistent caretaker with dependable behaviors for the child to feel safe. If there is disruption in this time period, the child will suffer long-term consequences of the maternal deprivation. Measurable long-term consequences of maternal deprivation, a term Bowlby coined, might include “delinquency, reduced intelligence, increased aggression, depression, and affectionless psychopathy” (Music, 2011). If the attachment is successful, it can lead to the internal working model. This model consists of “others of being trustworthy, a model of the self as valuable, and a model of the ‘self as effective’ when interacting with others” (Soenens, 2010). Bowlby believed that the attachment style in social relationships have a lasting effect on the future behavior of people. Bowlby also believed that “security of attachment promotes psychological well-being, in all cultures” (Stevenson-Hinde, 2007). Humans need attachments with others for their psychological and emotional development, as well as for their survival. He also focused on how attachment difficulties were transmitted from one generation to the next. Bowlby also determined four features of his attachment process. Proximity Maintenance refers to the child desiring to be in close proximity to the caretaker. When an attached child experiences increased anxiety when there is unwanted or prolonged...
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