Disruption of attachment

  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 10-05-15 14:18

Disruption of attachment - AO1

- Bowlby suggests several things:

1. Maternal deprivation - loss of the mother or attachment figure.

2. If a child experiences repeated separations before the age of 2½ it could lead to emotional deprivation (problems regulating their emotions.)

3. A longer-term effect of maternal deprivation could be affectionless psychopathy (inability to experience empathy for others.)

- Infants separated from their caregiver may react through the following stages (PDD model):

1. Protest - in the first few hours the child will protest at the separation e.g. screaming, crying.

2. Despair - after a day or two the child will become more withdrawn and less interested in its surroundings. 

3. Detachment - after a few days the child will become more interested in its surroundings and may seem to have 'recovered' from the separation. However, their previous attachment may now be permanently damaged. 

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Privation and the effects of institutionalisation

Hodges and Tizard: longitudinal study of children in institutional care, which examined the effects of privation on later development and also tested Bowlby's critical period hypothesis. The ppts were 65 children who had been in institutional care from less than four months old, who were not allowed to form attachments with the carers. By the age of 4, 24 of the children had been adopted and 15 had been returned to their biological parents, and they were studied at age 8 and 16 against a control group (who hadn't been in institutional care.) The children, parents, teachers and peers were interviewed. The adopted children had generally formed close attachments to their adoptive parents and had good relationships, but this was much less common for the children returned to their biological parents. However, outside of the family both groups were more attention seeking and approval seeking from adults, and had poor peer relationships compared to the control group. This study goes against Bowlby's critical period hypothesis, and also although attachments had been disrupted they were able to reform them, sugegsting it is possible to get over privation, but poor peer relationships suggests a full recovery is difficult. 

Koluchova 'Czech twins': twin boys whose mother died soon after they were born, so had to live with their abusive father and stepmother . They were found at age 7 with rickets and very little social or intellectual development. Later adopted and by adulthood they had above average intelligence and normal social relationships.

Curtiss 'Genie': suffered extreme cruelty from her parents, never formed any attachments. Discovered at age 13 physically underdeveloped and could only communicate with animal-like sounds. Learned some language but her social and intellectual skills never developed. 

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Disruption of attachment research - AO2

Resarch support

Robertson and Robertson: naturalistic observation of short term separation in which several children were observed and filmed. Several children were cared for by a foster mother in her own home, and were allowed to visit their mothers in hospital and bring things from home with them, whereas John (18 months) stayed in a residential home where the staff had little time to attend to his needs. The emotional bond was maintained for the children allowed to see their mother, and they welcomed her at the end of their stay, however John was overwhelmed by the strange environment and clung to a teddy bear, rejected his mother upon return and continued to show outburts of anger towards her in the months following. This suggests that separation does not neccessarily have to lead to emotional deprivation, as long as separation is minimised and substitute emotional care is provided. 

Bowlby '44 juvenile thieves' : looked at 88 children aged 5 to 16, 44 of which were thieves who had been identified as affectionless psychopaths. The other 44 (control group) did not show evidence of affectionless psychopathy. Found that 86% of the affectionless psychopath thieves had experienced early and prolonged separations from their mothers, whereas only 17% of the other thieves and 4% of the control group had. This suggests a link between early separations and later social and emotional maladjustment. 

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Privation and the effects of institutionalisation

Hodges and Tizard study:

- High attrition/dropout: sample eventually may not be representative as 20 ppts dropped out. 

- Natural experiment: variables could not be controlled so extraneous variables may have affected the results e.g. adoptive parents may have been more loving than the neglective biological parents. Therefore you cannot establish cause and effect. 

Methods of data collection: main methods used were interviews and questionnaires, social desirability bias. 

Rutter et al: studied a group of Romanian orphans who had suffered an extreme lack of physical and emotional care before adoption. Children adopted by British families before 6 months showed normal levels of development, but children after 6 months showed indiscrimiate attachments (accepting anyone as a caregiver) and had problems with peers.

Case studies:

- Rich and interesting data was collected, challenges existing theories.

- Low reliability case study and findings may be subjective.

No control of extraneous variables: Genie's brain damage may have been present from birth.

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