Chapter 6: Attachment Theory and Research (1 of 2)
I. Introduction toAttachment Theory: Insights from Two Videos
A. In class Video: Documentary on orphaned elephants aired on The Nature of Things (CBC) entitled
“For the Love of Elephants”
• Class Discussion:
o What must the substitute mothers provide the orphaned elephants to ensure their survival?
- Sense of security, protection
- Physical Contact (skin-to-skin)
- Co-sleeping (24/7 physical availability)
- Devotion/exclusivity – there’s only one
o What are some of the effects of disrupted attachment on the young elephants?
- Anxiety (PTSD)
- Loss their will to live (failure to thrive)
- Can’t sleep/settle
- Refuse to eat
- Frantically searching for caregiver (proximity-seeking)
- Rejected by other elephants/peers
o Sense of fear/distress
o Lack of self-assertion (lack group entry skills)
o Inability to independently play/explore environment
B. In-Class Video: Comparison between two children adopted toAmerican parents (you must come to
class to see the video – the series “Time to Grow” (Volume 14) is unavailable on the web)
• Class Discussion:
o What accounts for Laura and Jeremy’s attachment differences with their adoptedAmerican parents?
- Jeremy – cross eyed, didn’t want to be picked up, didn’t recognize anyone, emotional,
anxious attachment, less exploration, less interaction with peers, somewhat problematic, need more
help growing up, long hard struggle, didn’t form attachment with anyone
- Laura – no problem, secure attachment, knows how to reach out for help, people meet her
needs, adequate attachment experiences prior to adoption, reattachment easier
1 No attachment ----- Insecure attachment formed ----- secure attachment formed
o What evidence suggests Laura is doing well?
- separate from mother, caregiver to go to daycare, play
- caregiver to give her security in times of stress
- able to express pride for accomplishments (self-conscious’emotions – 2.5 years old, evidence of
healthy self-concept development)
o What evidence suggests Jeremy is struggling?
- touching mother, reach out to others, but must have mother nearby
- doesn’t go to anyone, or use caregiver when upset, not reaching out
- withdrawn, affectless (not expressing emotions), zombie
II. Background Information on John Bowlby (1907-1990) relevant toAttachment Theory
• Bowlby was the fourth of six children born to upper class British parents
o Bowlby’s Father
Arenowned surgeon who worked on the front lines during World War I (WWI) to treat injured
Described as a remote and inaccessible man by his friends and family
Was tortured to death while working on the front lines when Bowlby was 20 years old
o Bowlby’s Mother
Was neither physically or emotionally available to any of her six children; the children saw their
mother for only an hour a day, after tea, during which time she read to them.
Of his mother, Bowlby (1958) stated “She held the view that it was dangerous to spoil children so
her responses … to bids for attention and affection were the opposite of what was required”.
2 o Bowlby’s Nanny
In early childhood, Bowlby’s primary caregiver was his nanny. When Bowlby was four, his
beloved nanny left. Bowlby (1958) stated “For a child to be looked after entirely by a loving
nanny and then for her to leave… can be almost as tragic as the loss of a mother”.
NoAttachment | Secure Attachment
o Boarding School
Bowlby was sent away to boarding school at 7 years of age because of concerns for his safety (i.e.,
due to WWI). Bowlby (1973) writes that he would not even send a dog away from home at that
age; Bowlby (1973) states “Unhappiness in a child accumulates because he sees no end to the
dark tunnel. The thirteen weeks of a term might just as well be thirteen years”.
o In Conclusion
Bowlby was fiercely opposed to remote and rigid child rearing practices that were the norm in
England. Specifically, he was critical of parents who deprived their children of love and affection
because they held irrational fea