Disruption of attachment

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Separation & deprivation

Separation is when a child is away from a caregiver they're attached to (such as mum) this term is used when it is a relatively short time e.g. a few hours or days- not a longer or permanent separation

Deprivation describes the loss of something that is wanted or needed. so 'maternal deprivation' is the loss of the mother. a more long term or permanent loss is implied

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PDD model

children who have been separated from their caregiver may go through the following stages, it is known as the PDD model Protest, Despair, Detachment

1, protest- during the first few hours the child will protest a lot at being separated from its mother by crying, panicking and calling for its mother.

2, after a day or two, the child will start to loose interest in its surroundings, becoming more withdrawn, with occasional crying. they may also eat and sleep less.

3. after a few days the child will start to become more alert and interested in its surroundings. it will cry less and may seem to have 'recovered' from its bad reaction to the separation. however, its previous attachment may have been damaged- trust and security may have been lost.

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Evidence for the PDD model- Robertson and Robertso

Method: naturalistic observation, several children who experience short term separations from their carers were observed and filmed. e.g. a boy called john aged 18 months stayed in residential care from 9 days whilst his mother had another baby.

results: john showed signs of passing through protest for a few days. then he showed signs of despair- he tried to get attention from the nurses but they were busy with other children so he 'gave up' trying. he then showed detachment- he was more active and content. however when his mother came to collect him he was reluctant to be affectionate.

conclusion: the separation had a bad effect on john, including possible permenant damage to his attachment with his mother

evaluation: johns reaction may not have been down to the separation but to the new environment that he was in and that he wasn't getting much attention. there would have been little control over variables and it would be difficult to replicate. it will have high ecological validity because it took place in a natural setting but this therefore means that it is less reliable

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strengths and weaknesses of PDD model

1, findings suggest that separating a child from its carer should be avoided whenever possible 

2, studies have shown that children who receive foster care do better than those placed into an institutionalised setting. it would seem that children manage to cope with the separation as long as they still receive one-on-one emotional support , even though its not from their primary caregiver

3, many factors influence how a child reacts to separation. these include age, individual temperament of the child and how often it has experienced separations. so separations do not necessarily produce the PDD effects. they may even be good for the child

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Maternal deprivation

1, deprivation from the main caregiver during the critical period (first 3-5 years) will have harmful effects on a child's emotional, social, intellectual and even physical development.

2, long term effects of deprivation may include seperation anxiety. this may lead to problem behaviour. future relationships may be affected by this emotional insecurity.

Bowlby- the 44 juvenile thieves

method: case studies were completed on the backgrounds of 44 adolescents who has been referred to the clinic where Bowlby worked because they had been stealing. the was a control group of 44 emotionally disturbed adolescents who didn't steal

results: 17 of the thieves had experienced frequent separations from their mothers before the age of 2, compared with 2 in the control group. 14 of the thieves were diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths. 12 of these 14 had experience separation from their mothers.

evaluation: link between deprivation and crimial behaviour, it cannot be said that one causes the other as there may be other factors.

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strengths and weaknesses of Maternal deprivation h

strength: other evidence supports Bowlby's claims. Goldfarb found that orphanage children who were socially and maternally deprived were later less intellectually and socially developed.

Weakness: the evidence cannot be criticised: Bowlby linked the thieves behaviours to maternal deprivation, but other things were not considered, e.g, whether they grew up in poverty which then led them to steal. the children in Goldfarbs study may have been most harmed by the social deprivation in the orphanage rather than the maternal deprivation.

however the effects of disruption of attachment can be reversed, Keels and Dye found that children who had been socially deprived during their first two years of life quickly improved their IQ scores if they were transferred to a school where they got one-to-one care.

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