Bowlby’s Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis
• Bowlby used the term maternal deprivation to refer to either 1) a failure to form attachment during the early months or 2) a disruption or loss of an existing attachment. In both cases the child is deprived of the love of a mother figure.
To what extent does research support Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis?
• The maternal deprivation hypothesis was Bowlby’s own belief about the the psychological effects of separation
• Bowlby believed it wasn’t enough to make sure that a child was kept safe and well fed. Infants and children need a mother’s emotional care to ensure continuing normal mental health
• A child who is denied such care because of frequent/prolonged separations will become emotionally disturbed, if this happens before the age of 2 and a half or if there is no substitute mother-person available.
• Continuing risk up to 5 years old.
• A child who is deprived of emotional care will suffer permanent consequences in terms of mental health. E.g. suffering from affectionless, psychotherapy or dwarfism (continues to effect adult life).
• Had an enormous impact on post war thinking about child rearing and how children were cared for in hospitals. Before the research by Bowlby, children were separated from their mothers when they spent time in hospital. Also had impact when women were institutionalised or sent to prison.
• Bowlby study – juvenile thieves – Aim was to test the maternal deprivation hypothesis. Focused on adolescents attending a child guidance clinic. Bowlby decided to compare 44 juvenile thieves with another group of emotionally disturbed teenagers who were not thieves. The children interviewed ranged from 5-16. These were the experimental group. They were compared to a further 44 children, who acted as a control group. These children were not thieves but had experienced emotional problems. Bowlby diagnosed 14 of the thieves as affectionless...