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Consequences of early attachment relations for children's social development

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Introduction

Consequences of early attachment relations for children's social development. Sigmund Freud (1909) suggested that a child's psychological development takes place in psychosexual stages (a series of five fixed stages). In the oral stage, which occurs in the first year of a child's life, the focus of organ-pleasure is the mouth. He proposed that if children experience trauma in this stage, they become fixated in the oral stage and it continues into adulthood, for example, smoking and thumb-sucking. The second stage, from 1-3 years of age, is the anal stage. In this stage, the child is fully aware of the ego and that his wish might conflict with someone else's. Freud believed it to be characterized in elimination through potty-training, for example (Freud, 1909). The phallic stage, 3-6 years, in which the focus of organ-pleasure has shifted to the genitals, includes Freud's highly controversial Oedipus conflict which analyses the castration anxiety in a five-year-old boy (Freud, 1909). The latency stage occurs between 7-11 years, where sexual urges are at a minimum. The genital stage occurs at 11 years. However, progress to this stage is only possible if serious fixation has not developed at an earlier stage. ...read more.

Middle

babies are highly sociable and can recognize familiar faces and distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar adults. The specific attachment stage (around 7 months) is where babies display a strong attachment for a time they show joy and reuniting with their carer and are sensitive to strangers. Until the 1950's, most psychologists believed that babies were attached to their primary carer because they associated them with food or being fed. However, John Bowlby's attachment theory changed that. Bowlby's attachment theory (1951,1958,1969) was a way of conceptualizing the tendency of individuals making strong bonds with one-another and trying to explain why loss and separation give rise to emotional distress. He looked at four particular areas; maternal deprivation hypothesis, evolutionary basis of attachment, social releasers and instinctive parenting responses and the internal working model. The maternal deprivation hypothesis put forward that an early attachment in life is essential aspect of a child's development. This stated that the primary carer must be there continuously throughout the sensitive period of a baby's first 18 months to 2 years (Bowlby 1951). In order to show the link between early attchemnet relations and psychopathic behaviour Bowlby (1946) conducted a study called "the forty four juvenile thieves". ...read more.

Conclusion

During a child's sensitive period (1-3 years old) if a secure attachment is not successfully formed it will become increasingly difficult to form one later on in life. The internal working model proposes that a child forms a mental representation of his first attachment with his primary carer through development and that this consequently has significant effect on his ability as a parent and to form a relationship. The internal working model states that if a child internalizes a working model of attachment as kind and reliable then they might bring it into their future relationships, however if the child internalizes a negative working model such as neglect and abuse then there is a chance of them reproducing this model in the future. Furthermore, many scholars believe that it is a myth to believe only those with successful early attachment relations can go on to be successful carers or parents. Fonagy et al (1993) assessed pregnant women's internal working model using the adult attachment interview and measured how securely the children and carer were attached at 12 to 18 months. The results showed that babies who displayed insecure attachments had parents who also had insecure attachments with their own parents. ...read more.

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