Maternal Deprivation

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Maternal Deprivation is a catch- phrase summarizing the work of psychiatrist John Bowlby on the effects of separating infants and young children from their mother (or mother substitute) John Bowlbys lifetime work was based around studying childhood through Developmental Psychology. Bowlby believed that there are enormous psychological consequences for a child who has experienced separation from its maternal figure, which he concluded in his “Thieves study” Bowlbys theory of monotropy led to the formulation of his maternal depravation hypothesis. He claimed that mothering is almost useless if delayed until after two and a half to three years, and for most children, if delayed till after 12 months (critical period). If the attachment figure is broken or disrupted during the critical two year period the child will suffer irreversible long term consequences of maternal depravation which may include: delinquency, reduced intelligence, increased aggression, depression, affectionless psychopathy. This risk continues until the age of 5. Bowlby used the term maternal depravation to refer to the separation or loss of the mother as well as failure to develop an attachment. Three landmark studies conducted in the 1950s supported his views. In 1946, Bowlby looked at the life histories of eighty eight children half of whom had a criminal record for theft. Fourteen of the “thieves” displayed a lack of normal affection, shame or sense of responsibility. Almost all of these affectionless children had suffered early and prolonged separation from their mothers. The remaining seventy four children who were not affectionless, only seven had been separated. This appears to be strong evidence in support of Bowlby hypothesis. Another strong evidence in support of Bowlby hypothesis came from research conducted by Lorenz. Bowlby felt that there was critical period in the formation of attachment and Lorenz work confirmed this when he become a mother to a brood of goslings. The phenomenon...
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