Disruption of Attachment

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  • Created by: Andreia
  • Created on: 19-05-13 22:35

Disruption of Attachment

The effects of disruption

Psychologists in the early 20th Century observed children who had experienced prolonged separations from families were often profoundly disturbed and lagged behind intellectual development.

Spitz and Wolf (1946)

They found that 100 "normal" children who were placed in an institution became severly depressed within a few months.

Skeels and Dye (1939)

found that similar children scored poorly on intelligence tests.

Studies of children in brief separation

Robertson (1952)

  • Used a camera to record his observations of daily life in a hospital ward.
  • Focused on 2 year old Laura who was admitted to hospital for an 8 day stay.
  • The film shows Laura alternating between periods of distress and calm. 
  • She is visited occasionally by parents and begs to go home, but as time goes by she tries to cope with the disappoint of having to stay.
  • Film becomes harder to watch because of Laura's struggle to control her feelings. 

Robertson and Robertson (1969)

  • Second child, John, placed in a residential nursery for nine days while his mother was in hospital having a baby. 
  • Father visited regularly.
  • In the first two days, the film shows John behaving normally. 
  • Gradually, this changes as he tries to get attention from the nurses but cannot compete with the more assertive children.
  • When John fails to find anyone who will respond to him, he seeks comfort from an over-sized teddy bear but isn't enough.
  • As the days go by, he begins to break down and refuses to eat and drink, stops playing, cries a lot and gives up trying to get the nurses' attention. 
  • Greets the father enthusiatically for the first week but by the second week, he just sits there quietly without saying anything. 
  • For long periods of the day, John lies cuddling the bear with his thumb in his mouth. 
  • On the ninth day, when his mother came to take him home, John screams and struggles to get away from her.
  • For months afterwards, John continued to have outbursts of anger towards his mother. 

Robertson and Robertson (1967-73)

  • Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate were all under the age of three and placed in foster care…


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