Discuss the application of psychological

Theory: – A set of ideas formulated to explain something (Oxford Dictionary 1995:333). That is the dictionary definition of the word “Theory”. Therefore, in layman’s terms a psychological theory can be interpreted as a way of collating and examining differing forms of behaviour and using them to help analyse behavioural patterns and make predictions about future patterns of behaviour. This essay will attempt to highlight some of the key areas pertaining to the Attachment Theory.

Using relevant examples from my own experience, it will attempt to demonstrate the relationship between Attachment Theories and their relevance to the social work profession, and highlight the difficulties that can occur when using this theory to interpret human behaviour. In order to protect the confidentiality of any persons involved in the examples, I have changed the identifying names and places of all those involved.

According to Kagan et al. (1978) (cited in Gross, 2001:460), an attachment is: “…an intense emotional relationship that is specific to two people, that endures over time, and in which prolonged separation from the partner is accompanied by stress and sorrow.” Whilst this definition can be used to identify any or all of our attachments formed at any point during our lives, it is accepted that our primary attachment will act as a model for all future relationships. It is also widely accepted that the most crucial first attachment is usually taken to be with the mother or mother figure within the first 12 months of life. Helen Bee gives us another insight into the definitions of attachment when she writes about Ainsworth’s attachment definitions.

Bee (1998:128) defines the child-parent attachment bond as an in-equal one, using Ainsworth’s (Ainsworth et al, 1978) definitions of affectional bonds and attachment behaviours. Ainsworth defines an affectional bond, as “a relatively long-enduring tie in which the partner is important as a unique individual, and is interchangeable with none other. In an affectional bond, there is a desire to maintain closeness to the partner”. An attachment is a sub-variety of emotional bond in which a person’s sense of security is bound up in the relationship. When you are attached, you feel (or hope to feel) a special sense of security and comfort in the presence of the other, and you can use the other as a “safe-base” from which to explore the rest of the world.

Using these definitions, Bee moves on to explain therefore that the child’s relationship with a parent or primary care-giver is therefore an attachment, but the parents’ relationship with the child is not. The parent presumably does not feel an the same sense of security in the presence of the child, nor will the adult use the infant as a safe base. In contrast, says Bee, an adult’s relationship with her or his spouse, or partner, typically is an attachment in the sense Ainsworth or Bowlby mean the term.

I, personally, would dispute this, given my experience of working with teenage mothers, all who have had experience of residential and foster care situations. They appear to have an overwhelming desire to become mothers, to have “someone to love them”. I believe that they see motherhood as a chance to re-create an attachment with the infant in an attempt to make up for what they feel they have missed out on. I believe that the young women use motherhood as an opportunity to create attachment bonds with the infant, and also to use them as their “secure base” in life.

Herbert (1981) believed that the first year of life is the most critical, as he believed that almost all babies should have developed a strong attachment to a mother or mother figure during this time. He believes that the long period of helplessness of infancy entails serious risks, so when looked at from an evolutionary perspective, it is of crucial importance for the survival of the human species that the child and it’s parents to become attached to one another for the survival of the young.

In effect what he is saying is that it is an instinctual drive for survival that drives babies to seek attention from that of their primary care-givers. This forms very much the foundations of both the Psychoanalytical and Behaviourist views of the attachment theory. Freud (1926, cited in Gross, 2001) believed that “The reason why the infant in arms wants to perceive the presence of its mother is only because it already knows that she satisfies all its needs without delay”.

John Bowlby did not side with this theory though, and has been one of the most prolific theorists about attachment and loss, and credit must be given to him for the development of the attachment theory, that is much talked about and used widely within the social care and psychological framework for assessments.

John Bowlby (1907-90), who was one of the leading psychologists in childcare believes, when a baby is born it is important for it to form a close bond to someone to ensure its survival. The need for warmth safety and …

Attachment describes a strong, emotional bond that endures over time between an infant and their caregiver. It is an important bond that results in desire to stay strong physically. One of the theories how attachment works and forms is called …

Attachment is a strong bond formed between infant and caregiver. It provides safety and is an asset in terms of the infant’s survival. This bond causes a strong sense of depression when the two individuals are apart and an equal …

Attachment is a strong, reciprocal, emotional bond between an infant and their caregiver that is characterised by the desire to maintain proximity. Attachments take different forms, such as secure or insecure. Infants display attachment through the degree of separation distress …

David from Healtheappointments:

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