Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life

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The establishment of relationships between a mother and a child is a vital stage in human development. However, today, the mother is not the only caregiver involved in a child’s life. Therefore, much attention is paid to the evaluation and improvement of emotional bonds. In the middle of the 1990s, John Bowlby, a British psychologist, and psychiatrist introduced the “attachment” concept and explained, “the ability to relate to others and create close connections” as an inborn quality and a “barometer” of positive functioning (Johnson, 2019, p. 25). The emotional closeness between a mother and a child is characterized by certain behavioral and psychological outcomes that can be traced throughout life. This paper aims at analyzing Bowlby’s attachment theory and its application in childhood, adulthood, romantic life, and the choice of parenting styles.

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Parent and child interactions may be established in a variety of ways. Many psychologists conduct their studies to observe behavioral and emotional changes under different conditions. Bowlby’s attachment theory is based on the fact that all humans are born with a need to develop ties with their caregivers who promote a sense of security (Johnson, 2019). Investigating hospitalized children and delinquent families, the psychologist defined it as “an account relevant to the whole personality” and considered the role of “transactional or interactional processes” in children’s growth (Barnes et al., 2018, p. 41). Every person is predisposed to the influence of the attachment system that is used to protect vulnerable individuals and regulate negative emotions. When a child is deprived of such a type of connection, negative consequences are observed, provoking intelligence decline and the development of mental health disorders. There are four main stages of attachment: pre-attachment (attract attention), attachment in making (have a sense of trust), clear cut attachment (prefer one caregiver), and formational reciprocal relationships (have a sense of security). Depending on children and parental involvement, ambivalent, disorganized, avoidant, and secure attachments are observed.

The implementation of attachment theory is critical from childhood because of several reasons. First, secure ties with a mother allow children to develop and avoid negative behaviors. Attachment problems like early abuse or neglect lead to the development of such mental health diagnoses as an oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Barnes et al., 2018). Secondly, the progress of such rare conditions as reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited attachment disorder is observed in maltreated or adopted children (Barnes et al., 2018). Finally, the outcomes of such problems are unexplained sadness, irritability, failure to smile, and no response to a positive environment. Children become unable to accept help and care or, vice versa, fail to recognize threats and feel excitement while interacting with strangers.

In adulthood, attachment styles may differ from those developed in childhood. Still, the impact of poor cooperation with adults is observed. According to Bowlby’s theory, adulthood changes are related to the self-image of their primary caregivers (Barnes et al., 2018). With time, secure attachment on individual-level results in high self-esteem, confidence, and resilience to stress (Johnson, 2019). The use of Bowlby’s ideas helps families promote independence, high academic performance, and positive social relationships in adults. Disorganized or ambivalent attachments create adults with low self-worth and inabilities to regulate their emotional changes properly. Adult people report common cases of anxiety, depression, and distress (Barnes et al., 2018). In many cases, adult people with poor attachment bonds cannot develop good relationships and remain emotionally close for a long period.

Although attachment theory focuses on the relationships people must develop early in life, it may significantly impact their romantic life with time. When children do not experience positive emotions with their primary caregivers, they neglect the possibility of intimacy with other people when they get older (Johnson, 2019). Such people can enjoy sex and understand their sexual needs, but they lack practice and information about how to communicate openly. Securely attached children who become adults know what it means to feel safe and connected with their partners. They allow themselves to try new forms of communication and freedom in choosing loving affairs. Avoidant and disorganized attachments are not able to recognize true love or trust and suffer from wrong expectations.

Modern adults find it necessary to surf the web and read educative journals to understand how to become a good parents to their children. The choice of a parenting style is one of the initial steps in many families. A person may prefer to follow authoritarian standards when parents’ rules prevail over children’s needs. Authoritative parents create positive relationships with children by giving recommendations and becoming the best examples to follow. Permissive parenthood is characterized by little interference from adults, and uninvolved parents have limited knowledge about their children and expect them to develop independently. In many families, the balanced style of parenting is promoted because of flexible separateness and togetherness. Bowlby’s theory of attachment underlines the importance of parental involvement to enhance social interaction and cooperation and support secure attachment.

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Emotional bonds between a primary caregiver and a child increase the chances of survival in today’s world. The role of parents in a child’s life is integral, and infants need to know that there is always a person who promotes care and safety. Bowlby’s attachment theory is a unique contribution to understanding how parenting must be developed. The impact of this theory is observed in childhood, adulthood, and romantic life through social interactions, mental health changes, and trust issues. If children do not feel love and attachment, their adult life may be associated with different psychological complexes.

References

Barnes, G. L., Woolgar, M., Beckwith, H., & Duschinsky, R. (2018). John Bowlby and contemporary issues of clinical diagnosis. Attachment (London), 12(1), 35-47.

Johnson, S. M. (2019). Attachment theory in practice: Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with individuals, couples, and families. The Guilford Press.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 10). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 10). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life. https://psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/

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"Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life." PsychologyWriting, 10 July 2022, psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life'. 10 July.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life." July 10, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life." July 10, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Its Impact on Human Life." July 10, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/bowlbys-attachment-theory-and-its-impact-on-human-life/.