GET IN TO A
STATE OF MIND
PLEASE FIND “ATTACHED”- THROUGH THE CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE
Humans have an innate tendency to bond with people. Be it our friendships, relationships with partners, formations of relations mainly revolves around the attachment that we form. It all starts from the childhood. Attachment is a deep enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby,1969). Various theorists have looked into attachment and formed their own theories. However, this article will look into foundational theories that were given by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby.
Edward John Mostyn Bowlby, simply known as John Bowlby, was a British psychologist, psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst who is known to be the father of Attachment theory. He was primarily influenced by the School of Cybernetics which is basically a school of communication.
According to him, the basic nature of attachment focuses on 3 things in infants:
This system manifests in 3 ways:
1)Seeking, monitoring and trying to maintain proximity to the attachment figure: This happens in the form of clinging, crying, calling, crawling to the attachment figure in order to establish security.
2)Using attachment figure as a secure base: Here the attachment figure provides an environment of protection and security so that the child feels safe enough to explore the environment effectively. This is called secure base. If the parents or attachment figure fail to establish the secure base, the exploration ceases.
3)Seeking attachment figure as a safe haven during moments of danger or harm: External threats or separation from attachment figure (usually mother) can trigger anxiety and proximity seeking behaviour. Thus the availability of the caregiver is not just for physical proximity but also for seeking comfort from the caregiver. This availability is defined in terms of how the child appraises it.
His work was mainly focused on delinquent homeless children the initial reaction for any traumatic reaction was protest, despair and detachment.
Like Bowlby was the father of attachment theory, well Mary Ainsworth can be called the mother, because psychology is gender neutral, right? Okay! Jokes apart. According to her, parent child interactions are likely to produce secure attachment or varieties of insecure attachment. This security is determined by the communication between caregiver and the child.
She conducted a research where she created a make belief situation, where there was a stranger, the mother and the child. This research is also called strange situation experiment. The child was there with mother in a room playing with toys. Suddenly the mother was told to go away and buy groceries.. just kidding.. no just sent out and the stranger was told to go in. The child was left alone with the stranger. Now obviously the child would start crying. The mother came back and stranger went, again mother went and stranger came and so on and so forth. According to her, one thing that was significant was the reaction of the child when he sees the mother back and that determined the kind of attachment style both engaged in. Now they are of 2 types:
Passive Children tend to faint or are too afraid to approach their mother directly. But this reunion neither relieved the distress about exploring freely nor their preoccupation with their mother’s whereabouts.
Mary Main described another form of attachment style which is called Disorganised or disoriented pattern. These responses were bizarre and contradictory. She observed that upon reunion, they froze in a place or collapsed on the floor. It is different from ambivalent style as the responses are uncanny and bizarre. It also shows up when the parental figure appears frightened as well as frightening to the child.
Secure attachment boosts self-esteem, greater competence and greater resilience and concentration. However, Insecure attachment leads to development of disorders which mainly include personality disorders later in the adulthood.
Hence it is highly important have a check into the kind of bond that you form with your child. Integrating Bowlby and Ainsworth’s theories, ideally, we all should be able to foster secure attachment with our children so that he/she gets proper environment for exploration. Too much protection will not even allow the child to explore the environment and will impede the development of the child. Lack of secure environment will not allow the child to have a protected environment and the child might engage in further risk taking behaviours. This can be further be studied along with parenting styles.
VanDijken, S. (1998). John Bowlby: His Early Life: A Biographical Journey into the Roots of Attachment Theory. London: Free Association Books
Berk, L. E. (2017). Child development. Noida, India: Pearson India.
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITHOUT TOUCHING
With the outbreak of the COVID-19, there has been an unprecedented augment in the amount of cases which has led to a lot of anxiety among people. There have been a lot of social media posts on quarantining being the need of the hour. In the current situation where we are acquainting ourselves with the word “social distancing”, people are staying away from those who have been tested positive for COVID-19. Such victims are being subjected to a lot of verbal and emotional abuse, where they are being blamed and boycotted. They also experience a lot of loneliness as a result of being abandoned by their close friends, relatives and acquaintances after they are diagnosed. Such a vitriolic behaviour adds to their psychological distress, when they are battling for their life.
While physical health is being a huge matter of concern for the masses, mental health is also being a matter of speculation during this pandemic. A lot of articles have come up with guru mantras on how to be productive during self-quarantining. Various mental health professionals have also come up with tips for clients with anxiety disorders on how to stay calm during this phase. However it is also important to understand the emotional plight of the victims and help them deal with it so much so that it doesn’t become an additional problem for them.
This kind of distress is not only onto the victims themselves, but also family members. I know a friend who is constantly distressed about his mother getting the virus, since he feels she is quite old and vulnerable. Hence this blog is not just about maintaining a proper mental health for your oneself but also for your own family members or friends’ family members during the this time of global crisis.
According to Stephen Porges who developed the Polyvagal Theory, there is another magical neural pathway apart from the activating and the relaxing ones; this is called Social Engagement system. This system can do both the tasks together. Engaging in social interactions with close ones can also produce a calming response in our body. This principle can be applied for the victims who are being subjected to emotional distress. Below are some ways we, as “asymptomatic” individuals can ensure during this self-quarantine phase for our loved ones battling against coronavirus:
Now before storming onto me, I understand that it is difficult to follow all the seven tips that I have listed but if you start with one, it will not only make the other person happy but also you happy. In a time, where it is difficult to find out a new activity to engage in or pass time every day, self-quarantining can be made productive and happier through this. After all, humans are social animals and in order to ensure healthy physical as well as mental functioning, socialisation is paramount. In this time, where the virus is proudly spreading its troop, let’s pledge to ensure safety in terms of mental and physical health for not only ourselves, but for our well wishers as well as for victims. Stay home and stay safe.
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