The primal importance of a child's bond to his mother has always been recognized as a topic that has fascinated people for hundreds of years. Among psychologists and sociologists, there is much debate about exactly how important this attachment is and why. At the turn of the century, the treatment of new-born babies was regarded as having little significance for later life, because babies were thought to be immune to influence. Such idea was attacked by Sigmund Freud. He believed the relationship a child has with his mother was a prototype on which all future relationships were based. Freud's theory held that the child becomes attached to his mother because she is the source of food; hence she gratifies his most basic needs. Slightly later in childhood, the drive for food is supplemented by another basic drive, and that is the need for sexual pleasure. According to Freud's theory, the mother, who is already an object of love because of her role in satisfying the first need becomes an object of desire with whom the child wants to gratify his sexual desire. In reference to boys is known as the Oedipus complex. An equivalent theory was proposed for girls, but was much criticized, and Freud eventually admitted to not understand female sexuality. In the normal course of growing up the child comes to accept that this cannot be, and he sets out to become an adult and find another figure with whom to satisfy this need. Therefore, if future relationships are a substitute for the mother-child bond, then they will also be modeled on it (Coon, 2000). Many people have questioned this cynical view of infants, including John Bowlby (1969, 1973). He disregarded Freud's theory of attachment believing instead, that a child is born biologically pre-disposed to become attached to its mother for two important reasons; first the need for comfort, and second, the fear of the unknown, both of which are characteristics that can be observed in all children. Bowlby's conjecture has been...
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