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Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis

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Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis According to Bowlby's hypothesis, breaking the maternal bond with a child during the early years of its life is likely to have serious effects on its intellectual, social and emotional development. Bowlby also claimed that many of these negative effects were permanent and irreversible. To support his hypothesis, Bowlby carried out a study with juvenile thieves. He interviewed the children and their families, and gradually built up a record of their early life experiences. He found that some children had experienced "early and prolonged separation form their mothers", and also found that some of the children were emotionally and / or socially maladjusted. He also diagnosed the condition affectionless psychopathy in some of the children, which involves a lack of guilt and remorse. ...read more.


He also suggested that early maternal deprivation during the critical period in the formation of the attachment could have long lasting negative effects that were observable several years later. More support for Bowlby's views came from a piece of classic research conducted by Lorenz (1935). In this study, Lorenz became 'mother' to a brood of goslings. It was already known that many birds attach themselves to the first figure they see upon hatching and persist in this attachment, and Lorenz's work confirmed this. The phenomenon is called imprinting, an ethological concept taken from embryology. During pre-natal development, there are short periods when an individual is especially vulnerable. These times are called 'critical periods' and the effect is an imprint. ...read more.


Rutter et al. conducted a study of over 2000 boys aged between 9 and 12. They and their families were interviewed, and the relationship between separation and delinquency was looked at. It was found that if the separation was due to the physical illness or death of the mother, there was no correlation with delinquency. However, if it was due to psychiatric illness or discord within the family, then the boys were 4 times more likely to become delinquent. As well as this, in more recent studies of adopted children, Tizard has found that older children can form satisfactory new relationships with adults despite the lack of earlier attachment. ?? ?? ?? ?? Tessie Taylor 12 I ...read more.

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