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'Are Mothers Necessary?'

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'Are Mothers Necessary?' Attachment as described by psychologists Kennell 'is an emotional bond between two individuals that endures trough space and time, and serves to join them emotionally'. A bond that develops between child and caregiver provides the child with emotionally security. The question 'are mothers necessary?' has been a much-discussed debate. In order to answer either for or against the necessities of mother, many theories attempt to explain attachment. Familiar people who have responded to the child's needs for physical care and stimulation are the child's attachment figures. Infants form attachments with their primary care givers, usually the mother. Biological views on how attachment bonds begin are, as a response to needs. The arousal relaxation cycle meet these needs. Firstly, the need for food causes' discomfort, the response to that need by the primary care giver leads to satisfaction and subsequently quiescence and then eventual the need will be present again. After eighteen weeks the need of a baby is no longer just food, it is now tactile verbal comfort. Interlocution between mother and baby now occurs. The arousal relaxation cycle leads to trust, security and ultimately attachment. The verbal comfort will lead to self worth, self-esteem that is just one of the many benefits of attachment. Other benefits of attachment are; it helps the child to attain full intellectual potential; to have accurate perceptions; think logically with emotion; develop a conscience; become self reliant; cope with stress, frustrations; cope with fear or worry; and finally it reduces jealousy. It also helps to develop future relationships, which is necessary not only for the species to survive but also for a happy person capable of relationships with friends and work colleagues etc 'life is about making and sustaining meaningful relationships' (Rutter). If attachments do form in childhood, the type of attachment or strength of attachment can be assed. Attachment theories often attempt to measure attachment and conclude that children are either insecurely attached or securely attached. ...read more.


The infant learns to have the need for food met and this generalises into a feeling of security whenever the caregiver (who is the secondary drive), is near to the infant. Harlow found that, when infant rhesus monkeys were placed in a cage with two surrogate mothers, 'the infants spent most of their time clinging to the cloth mother, even though 'she' provided no nourishment'. Therefore, monkeys have an unlearned need for 'contact comfort'. Harlow's study cast doubt on cupboard love theories and provided evidence that for (rhesus monkeys) attachment does not depend on food exclusively. The infant rhesus monkeys failed to develop normally, as adult monkeys they were aggressive, rarely interacted with other monkeys and were almost impossible to breed. This is possibly because the rhesus monkeys are highly sociable animals; it could be because of the privation of social interaction with the group from birth. Based on Harlow's study nothing definite could be said about the attachment in humans, as it would not be ethical to do this experiment using human babies. However, observations by Schaffer and Emerson found that human infants could become attached to family members not providing food, and more so, in western societies it is noted that some infants become attached to a blanket or dummy. The ethological theory is a widely accepted view. By studying the behaviours of certain baby birds in their natural habitat, ethologists Lorenz observed the following behaviour of the young. The baby birds from the precocial spices had the ability to fend for themselves when hatched, half saw their mother first and half saw Lorenz. The first moving object that is seen. The young animal learns to follow (this is usually the mother and therefore would provide care to its young.). Lorenz called this imprinting. This ensures survival because the mother feeds and protects its offspring. It was found that imprinting was genetically determined (the infants imprinted to a moving matchbox and a balloon). ...read more.


In a good day nursery or cr�che, the bond is not broken between mother and child. The child simple is now able to form more multiple (but small in number) of new attachment figures hopefully with no adverse effects. If the maternal bond is broken in infancy, it will result in serious, permanent, and irreversible effects with severe consequences in all aspects of the child social emotional and intellectual development. Long term deprivation, it is claimed causes; mental sub normality; delinquency; depression; dwarfism; acute distress and affectionless psychopathy (feelings of no remorse or guilt after committing a crime) Bowlby's methods to draw this conclusion were extremely flawed as his sample size was far to small (just '44 juvenile delinquents'.) Rutter criticised the study and conducted a similar study with a larger sample, he found that the majority did not become delinquent. For those who did it was evident that there was a poor relationship within the family group, a lot of family discord that lead to the maladjusted child. However, controversial Bowlby's theory seems it has had a positive impact. It has been applied to children's wards in hospitals leading to better care and improvements in other institutions. The theory has also led to better understanding of the importance of maintaining attachments. The continuing research and studies are building up an accumulation of evidence. It has led the way for critical periods and the importance of the early years to be examined and how this has influences on children's psychological development. There is also continuing research into the importance of deprivation and disadvantages. There are repeated findings that many children are not damaged by deprivation. According to Rutter, 'the evidence is unequivocal that experiences at all ages have an impact.' However, it is likely that the first few years do have a special importance for bond formation and social development, not exclusively restricted to a mother but to another consistent and sensitive caregiver. ...read more.

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