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The word ‘attachment’ refers to forms of behaviour that result in an individual developing a closeness to a significant other and maintaining it. The theory of attachment describes several behavioural systems that work together to regulate aspects such as  human attachment, fear and peer-affiliation amongst other things. The role of the parent is emphasised as they act as a mediator, a reflector and a moderator for the child’s mind. The child relies on the caregevier to respond to their states in ways that are suitable for internal experience, and this is referred to as a secure base or safe haven functioning. A primary caregiver for an infant is a the source regulating their stress and, therefore, their sense of safety and security. If the parent-child relationship is strong, there are “neural networks” in place committed to feelings of safety, attachment and the core sense of self. These are known as internal working models of attachment (Counselling-directory.org.uk, 2018).When forming attachments, there are two important theories when it comes to forming attachments. The learning/behaviourist theory (Dollard and Miller, 1950)suggests that attachment is a set of learned behaviours. The basis of learning these behaviours is the provision of food, meaning that, as an infant, we develop attachments to whoever feeds us and this tends to be the mother. As a result, the ‘feeder’ is associated with feelings of comfort and classical conditioning is applied in order to view contact with them as a source of comfort. Infants also learn that, if they display certain behaviours, specific responses are produced from those around them (i.e. crying results in attention), and repeating the behaviours helps to get them what they want. This is called operant conditioning. The second theory is evolutionary theory (e.g. Bowlby, Harlow, Lorenz etc.). This theory suggests children are born with the biological predisposition to form attachments in order to survive. Children produce social ‘releaser behaviours’ such as  smiling, laughing and crying as a way of producing caregiver responses from adults. Evolutionary theory says attachment is driven by care and responsiveness of the caregiver as opposed to being driven by food. According to Bowlby, only one primary attachment is made during infancy and they are used as a way to explore the world. The attachment is used as a “template” for all future attachments, meaning if at any point it gets disrupted, the infant can be affected later in life. The theory also suggests that between the ages of 0-5 years old is the critical time for developing attachments. If this doesnt happen, high aggression levels and lower intelligence levels can be experienced amongst other developmental issues.According to Bowlby, attachment theory is a spatial theory both literally and metaphorically. We experience feelings of happiness when ‘close’ to loved ones and sadness when there’s distance. This ‘distance can refer to being across the country from a loved one or feeling mentally distant. Attachment is mediated by looking/touching/feeling. It is an ‘umbrella term’ and used in a number of ways. Attachment style refers to the state and/or quality of individual attachments. Are they secure or insecure? Insecure attachments can then be further divided into subcategories; children with an avoidant attachment style will ignore their caregiver and show little to no emotion regarding them. Children with an disorganised attachment style still tend to ignore their caregiver however, they show more emotion when they leave or return. The final sub-category is ambivalent. A child with this type feels anxious whenwer their caregiver is gone (also known as seperation anxiety) and this feeling remains even after the caregiver has returned (Simplypsychology.org, 2018).Bowlby intended to discover the links between life events and psychiatric symptoms developing in individuals. In order to do this, he looked at 44 juvenile thieves and was able to link their disruptions with conduct disorder and phobias; two major psychiatric disorders experienced in childhood. He was ablr to anticipate the connections between changes in attachment during childhood and developing conditions such as depression and psychopathic behaviours in adulthood. Bowlby determined that anxious attachment was a result of major parental disruptions such as a death or divorce (Holmes, 2014)Bowlby’s theory of attachment has implications for counselling and psychotherapy (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999, Lopez, 1995; Lopez & Brennan, 2000; Mallinckrodt, 2000). If an individual is fortunate enough to have a caregiver/caregivers who are emotionally there for them and respond in a positive manner, there is a high chance they will have the ability to develop secure attachments later in life. They will also have a “positive internal working model of self and others”. There are two dimensions to adult attachment. The first is adult attachment anxiety. This is the fear of rejection and abandonment within relationships, excessively seeking and needing approval from those around us and having a negative view of ourselves amongst other things (Mikulincer, Shaver, & Pereg, 2003). The second is adult attachment avoidance. This is the fear of any intimacy, an excessive need for self-reliance, viewing others negatively and being reluctant for self disclosure amongst other things (Mikulincer et al., 2003). Even though its possible, Bowlby (1988) acknowledged that it is extremely difficult to change attachment patterns in adulthood (Psychotherapy, 2018).Mary Ainsworth (1982, 1989) developed a way to measure and conceptualise patterns associated with both attachment types. She also expanded Bowlby’s ideas and modified them in order keep them up to date as, in todays world,focus tends to be more on the subtleties of parent-child interactions as opposed to the “gross disruptions of care” i.e. bereavement and loss (Holmes, 2014). Ainsworth developed three attatchment stlyes. The first style is secure attschment. Children experiencing this have parents who make them feel loved and safe. Their needs are met and the parents display empathy alongside providing a warm home environment that helps the children become empathic themselves. Securely attached children tend to be less aggressive and accept more responsibility than those in the other attachment styles. This style creates a healthy template for future relationships to be modeled on. It is estimated that secure attachment is the most common across the UK at around 50%. The second trait is anxious/preoccupied. Parents of children in this type are inconsistent when it comes to parental attention. They are only occasionally reliable. As the children get older, they can be clingy and sometimes demanding. They find it difficult to calm themselves down, even if they have a partner who is securely attached. The anxious/preoccupied. style is thought to take up about 20% of the population. Those experiencing it can crave intimacy and this is due to the fact that their early attachment needs were usually ignored but, in the same breath,they doubt their own value and ability as a partner. Their almost never ending anxiety makes it to acknowledge the fact that they are loved and valued by someone important to them. The next trait is dismissive/fearful avoidant, in which  “parents are neglectful as a lifestyle”, leaving their children responsible to keep themselves occupied. Even though their physical needs are met (i.e. fed, clothed, shelter), any emotional support is of limited supply. Children who grow up with this style believe their needs won’t ever be met and that they are responsible for their own care. They are of the opinion they will always be let down. Developing close relationships is desirable to them but can be scary so, as a result, they may decide it’s easier to be alone. The final style is disorganised attachment. Combined, the  other types make up around 90% of human attachment styles, meaning the rest is left for disorganised attachment. Children who have witnessed violence or experienced abuse in their lives fail to develop feelings of safety and security with others as they get older. They display anxious behaviours and can seem avoidant at times. It is extremely challenging to calm a disorganised attached person down and they tend to experiece chaotic intimate relationships due to the fact they can lean heavily on those around them manage their feelings. Traumatic memories of their childhood can possibly resurface when raising their own children (Couples retreats and Online Couples Therapy, 2018). Mary Ainsworth developed the ‘strange situations’ test as a way to assess the wuality of attachment a child has for their mother. Their attachment style was analysed by placing the mother and child alone together in a room filled with toys to capture the childs attention. Once the child explored the room, a ‘stranger’ entered the room and engaged in conversation with the mother for a while. They also interact with the child, at which point the mother left the room whithout the infant niticing, returning a few minuted later. Both the mother and stranger left the room at the same time, leaving the infant alone for a short period of time. The stranger came back alone, followed by the mother, who went straight over to her child. The reaction of the infant to this test differed depenfing on their attachment type. Securenly attached children showed distress when their mother left and was happy when she retured. Avoidant-insecure children didnt explore the room too much. They didnt seem to react when their mother left and ignored her when she returned. Resistant-insecure/ambivalent children, much like avoidant-insecure children, didnt explore the room that much. They were wary of the stranger and showed distress when their mother left. When she returned, the child appeared resentful towards their mother, sometimes even rejecting her attempts at affection. Finally, disorganised-insecure children mainly seemed confused and a bit anxious regarding the whold test (Parentingscience.com, 2018).Heidi Keller’s article on attachment theory’s Western, middle-class assumptions helps us to gain an insight into the ways in which attachment theory is viewed in different cultures. In the article, she writes, “the definition of attachment in mainstream attachment research are in line with the conception of psychological autonomy, adaptive for Western middle-class, but deviate from the cultural values of many non-Western and mainly rural ecosocial environments.”. From this, we can see how attachment theory, in particular research leading on from Bowlby’s original work and Ainsworth’s strange situation procedure, made assumptions that the most important relationship across the world is between a mother and her child. However, this may not be the case all over the world. This is because western middle class families make up less than 5% of the world population. A lot of cultures around the world have limited resources and, as a result, caregiving tends to be shared across family networks (aunts, grandparents, sibling). Keller did not include daycare services or childminders in this data, however, these are common childcare services used by parents. Ainsworths attachment styles are also a relevant when it comes to international and transcultural views on attachment theories. The attachment styles tend to focus on the mother-child relationship and, even though attachment primarily occurs between mother and child, the distribution of these styles differs vastly across cultures. Keller conducted and presented research to display the changes in the proportions of each attachment style across different cultures. She came up with an explanations for the styles; “In Northern Germany some researchers … replicated the Ainsworth Strange Situation with 46 mother-infant pairs and found a different distributions of attachment classifications with a higher number of avoidant infants: 52% avoidant, 34% secure, and 13% resistant. … The Japanese case is another example. Researchers … studied 60 pairs of Japanese mother-infant pairs and compared the Japanese distribution with Ainsworth’s distributional pattern. There were no significant differences in proportions of securely attached (68%) and insecurely attached (32%) infants like Ainsworth’s results. However, the Japanese insecure group consisted of only resistant children, with no avoidant ones… . Finally, there is the Israeli case with the … study that also revealed a high frequency of the ambivalent pattern. The Northern Germany researchers … interpreted their findings as expressing a greater parental push toward children’s independence, whereas the Israeli kibbutzim and the Japanese data were interpreted in terms of underexposure to strangers.”(Laura K. Kerr, PhD, 2018)

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