Discuss Research Into the Effects of Failing to Form Attachment (Privation) Essay

There are situations in life which people get themselves into that can cause problems in forming attachments. If a person is in hospital or attends day care then this can lead to disruption in attachment however there are other situations that can lead to privation, which is when children fail to form any attachments at all. If a person is in hospital for a very long time, being abused, being neglected, children being isolated or even institutional care then this can lead to them not being able to form any attachments.

So, there have been many research studies that have been carried out by psychologists in the past which can show the effects of children failing to form attachments. One of the most common ones is Genie ‘The Feral Child’. Researchers found out that Genie, who was a 13 year old girl, was locked in a room all alone from when she was born, because her dad thought she was retarded. The teenage girl was often forgotten about when she was kept locked up in that room all by herself. She could not stand properly and she had a strange bunny-like-walk and she couldn’t speak other than the words ‘no more’ and ‘stop it’.

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She didn’t understand very much either and she was always spitting. Genie only weighed 59 pounds all in all; she had been lacking emotional care. The effects of the lack of emotional care lead to Genie not forming any attachments with people and when she was taken away and put in a hospital in LA, she never fully recovered socially. After being looked after and cared for by teachers, doctors and scientists, Genie rarely showed any interest in other people that were around her during her life.

Bowlby says that the sensitive period for effective attachment was between 6 months old and 2 to 3 years old. Genie Wiley was discovered by the local authorities at the age of 13 so this age was far too late for her to form attachments with people which mean that recovery was not possible for the girl. Moreover, another case study that focused on failure to form attachments was carried out by Jill Hodges and Barbara Tizard most known as the case study Hodges and Tizard, 1989. These two people used a longitudinal approach which s where people are followed for a period of time which in this case is 16 years. Jill and Barbara followed a group of 65 British children who were previously placed in institutional care, from their childhood in their early life up to adolescence. As the children were so young, they hadn’t yet formed any attachments with anybody. A previous study that was carried out on the children shown that 70% of the children weren’t able to care deeply about anyone. Although most of the children that were studied on had experienced a lack of emotional care (privation).

Hodges and Tizard carried out various assessments on the children regularly up to when they turned 16. The children were put into two groups which were where they remained in institutional care and the others were ‘ex-institutional’ which meant they had left that care and were either adopted or back with their parents. It was found that the children that had been returned to their original families were less likely to form attachments with their mothers and had poor relationships with them.

Both groups of ex institutional children had problems with their peers and teachers said that this group of children would be less likely to be liked by other children, less likely to have a special friend, bully other children, are quarrelsome and get more attention from adults which was a sign of disinhibited attachment. The effects of institutionalisation were pretty negative as even when the children were given good emotional care, they still lacked on the ability to form relationships or attachments with people. Bowlby says that the sensitive period for effective attachment was between 6 months old and 2 to 3 years old.

Again, this supports what he says as if children don’t manage to form attachments within this period of time then it’ll have a big effect on their emotional development. Overall, some of the research that was carried out in the past shows that if children do not form an attachment within the early stage of life, the sensitive period which was between 6 months old and 2 to 3 years then it’s impossible to recover. This then results in dishinbited attachment which is where individuals were over friendly and try to gain attention from people.

However, with the information of the research that Jill Hodges and Barbara Tizard had found out, it isn’t clear that the children in which they studied on had formed other attachments with other people. With the information from the Hodges and Tizard case, people thought that no attachments had been formed with the children however this may not be true as they could have formed some attachments in their early life and then later on they had been complications within the attachment like: feeling rejected. This idea was not found out by Jill and Barbara. Finally, people do not know the effects of privation had on in individual’s later life.

The Hodges and Tizard case study that was carried out by Jill and Barbara was not possible to do again as the children got older as it would have been difficult to contact the 65 children in which they had studied on. Although, ex institutional children may need more time than the other group of children to learn and mature normally and be able to cope with normal relationships and attachments. Sometimes, if the children (that had failed to form attachments in their early life) are given the right kind of care and properly looked after then people may find that they do recover eventually.

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