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'To what extent do research studies support the view that maternal deprivation can have long term effects?

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Introduction

'To what extent do research studies support the view that maternal deprivation can have long term effects? Maternal deprivation is when the child is deprived of love from the primary caregiver (i.e. the mother) in the early stages of development. This essay will examine the latter effects of bond disruption, and the studies that have been carried out to support it. Early attachments by the primary caregiver are important in the child's latter life. This is supported by a study carried out in 1944 by Bowlby. The participants were patients of the child guidance clinic, half of which were referred to the clinic for stealing, whilst the other half because they were emotionally maladjusted. Some of the 'thieves' were diagnosed as 'affectionless psychopaths'; none of the emotionally maladjusted were. The results from this study are significant, 86% of those diagnosed as 'affectionless psychopaths' had experienced early and prolonged separations from their mothers, whereas very few of the non-psychopathic thieves had experienced such separations. The results exemplify that children are affected by bond disruption in early development. Bowlby later in 1952 drew up the 'Maternal deprivation hypothesis' acknowledging the results he had found earlier. In this hypothesis, Bowlby focuses on the effects of deprivation and the needs of a child. ...read more.

Middle

When the children who had TB were compared with a control group of children who had not been in hospital, it was found that there were no differences in terms of delinquency or problems in forming social relationships. Therefore, it would appear that separation does not inevitably have harmful effects, as long as bond disruption is minimized. Attachments can be explained in terms of learning theory or Bowlby's theory. Classic and operant conditioning suggest that infants will become attached to the person who feeds them, either by becoming a conditioned stimulus (association) or a secondary reinforcer (drive reduction). However, research doesn't support this reductionist view. Bowlby argued that attachment behaviour is innately adaptive. According to Bowlby, social releasers are important during a critical period of development and later relationships are based on the internal working model. However, Bowlby's theory cannot explain all individual differences, nor the fact that individuals tend to form different kinds of relationship later in life. Secure attachment is claimed to be of prime importance for emotional and social development. Therefore if separation harms attachment, we would expect to see differences in terms of social and emotional development in those children placed in day care. ...read more.

Conclusion

One might be able to explain this in terms of the fact that insecurely attached children needed compensatory education, and therefore benefited from day care, whereas the securely attached children did not require this extra attention. However, later reports on socio-emotional development found no differences between the two groups. These findings again suggest that what appears to mater is not the day-care experience itself, but the conditions under which it may be positively beneficial. This hypothesis although it is beneficial, is not quite accurate as much of the evidence for this theory came from children which were institutionalised and therefore deprived in many ways, not just maternal, it could also be physically. Also not all research shows that separation leads to maladjustment, in 1956 Bowlby found no such ill effects caused.. In 1981, Rutter suggested that behavioural problems were the result of broken homes causing disharmony, rather than the separation. Rutter did a study on over 2,000 boys aged between 9 and 12, who had all experienced separation whether it be from physical illness, death of mother, psychiatric illness, or discord within the family. Rutter found that the boys were four times more likely to become delinquent rather than when separation was caused by illness. This supports Rutter's hypothesis that it is family discord rather than separation on its own, which cause delinquency and emotional maladjustment. ...read more.

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