Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attachment Theory

John Bowlby, who worked for the World Health Organization early in his career, provided the basis for most of attachment theory and practice. He argued that institutions fail to provide children with the intimate, warm, and continuous relationships that primary caregivers (usually mothers) can give. According to Bowlby, such a relationship is an absolutely necessary condition for successful human development. If a child is institutionalized for long enough, he or she may become incapable of forming the breadth and depth of human relationships necessary for survival and development. Attachment also provides the foundation of a conscience. In a "normal" home, attachment to parents results in the child wanting to act in ways that please the parent. If early connections are weakened or problematic, there is a decrease in the desire to please the people important to us -- because people are just not that important to us. Related research has identified children with histories of early childhood abuse or neglect as being at greater risk for experiencing attachment difficulties.

Attachment serves a variety of functions, such as basic nurturing, interaction, discipline and affection. Attachment is the connection that allows parents to teach values and expectations, and for children to accept these values and expectations.

Adults who formed healthy attachments during early childhood will have the capacity to experience healthy adult life. Children who were emotionally deprived, however, will continue to remain emotionally isolated as adults, have difficulty with relationships, and may act in deviant or delinquent ways. They are all too often manipulative in their behavior, using others for their emotional support without reciprocating or letting anyone get close to them emotionally. Some are haunted by loneliness. As adults they often cannot hold on to either jobs or relationships.

Excerpts from Dickens, Boys Town or Purgatory : Are Institutions a Place to Call Home? By Victor Groza, Daniela F. Ileana, and Ivor Irwin

My friend posted this the other day and although it is primarily about children who are institutionalized, it reminded me so much of how my husband was raised - and the effects of that on all of us.

1 comment:

  1. i read a few post and i can't say know what your going thru I don't but be strong and keep your head up. your a better woman than I because I would have left his ass a long time ago and let his parents deal with him!