Maternal Deprevation

Length: 890 words

Give an understanding of your feelings regarding maternal depravation (write at least five hundred words). “Maternal depravation” has been used to describe a whole range of situations in which the infant is deprived of his/her relationship with its mother/ primary carer. Bowlbys theory of “Maternal depravation” was founded on the hypothesis, that if a child is detached on a physical and emotional level from its primary carer that this will have a long term effects emotionally for that child.

According to Bowlby this detachment will see an increase in disruptive and deviant behaviour as well as a detachment between themselves and their children in the future. Bowlby even goes as far as to suggest that the affected child could possibly grow into an affectionless psychopath lacking and social conscience. Bowlby based his research on a group of children who had been referred to his clinic for stealing (Juvenile thieves). Bowlby found that 32% of them were indeed lacking any conscious understanding or empathy towards the society in which they inhabited and was apart of. 6% apparently had indeed experienced early separation (if only for a week before the age of five). And in contrast only 17% of these children had

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not been deprived during their early years. On this basis Bowlby claimed that maternal depravation would have the following consequences on the child:- * Emotionally and physically aggressiveness, * Depression, * Delinquency, * Dependency anxiety (clinging), * Dwarfism (retarded growth), * Affectionless psychopath (showing no feelings for others), * Intellectual retardation and, * Social maladjustment.

Shumacker, Glueck and Glueck have also researched Bowlbys findings. Shumacker echoes Bowlbys findings and states “The structure of the family and home environments are very important in the development of the child. ” Shumacker believed that if the child suffered detachment from their main care givers, in their early years then they do not have the same security and emotional support within their known environment. This will then have a long term development and social affect on the child’s later years. These children will then become young delinquents and in adult years criminals.

Glueck and Glueck researched the possible causes of delinquency and through their findings found supportive evidence to confirm Bowlby’s theory. Like Shumacker they too found that the individuals they studied had suffered detachment in various forms from an early age. Bowlby’s theory has had a huge impact on society as we know it today. Bowlby has done much more to aid better child care within institutions such as Orphanages, children homes and hospitals. Hospital administrators have found and implemented ways to allow parents more contact with their children during the separation period, whilst they are receiving medical care.

They have also attempted to bring a touch of home onto the wards such as decor, toys and so on. Bowlbys theory on “Maternal depravation” though has had many criticisms from many academics such as Sir Michael Rutter. He suggested that separation was in fact a very complex and diverse subject and through research the study of children who were separated from their main carers, but had alternative caregivers such as fathers and extended families, were able to function and emotionally grow as well as non separated children.

If care was given early enough, in many cases, unlike what Bowlby suggested, that the harm is irreversible. Rutter in fact suggested that traits put forward by Bowlbys theory could in fact be reversed. Rutter suggested that in fact fathers can be equally as important as mothers, also that a multitude of individuals can give to a child all that it needs to grow healthily on an emotional and physical level. The main focus should be on the care given to the child rather than who is giving it.

On evaluating Bowlby’s and Rutter’s theories it does seem that the “Maternal depravation” theory holds much weight but so does the theory of Rutter’s book and theory “Maternal depravation reassessed”. Bowlby’s research was focused very much on children who were already showing deviant behaviour. Yet his research did not take into account that of children who had undergone maternal depravation but not shown any deviant or anti social attributes. Bowlby’s and Freud’s theory suggested that “what is broken can never be fixe4d”.

Research since then one by Rutter had been able to refute Bowlby’s theory to varying degrees. Bowlby focused on the mother within a child’s life and does not seem to take into consideration other family members and care givers. This it would seem also leads to much criticism of his theory. The conclusion it seems would be to take on board Bowlby’s theory, but also apply others thoughts and findings within the children’s psychology. We could be easily dismissing the strengths and advantages that other family members or care givers that are within a child’s life.

We also need to understand what the primary care givers would normally provide for a child to allow us to engage on what a child does in fact need in their lives. Whether a mother is there or not if we understand what we should ideally be providing for a child then another individual or many individuals can tale the role as the primary carer, or segments of the role. In providing this the child will grow healthily on a physical and emotional level.

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