Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points

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John Bowlby, a psychoanalyst born in 1907 believed that behavioral and mental health problems were a result of a person’s early childhood. His evolutionary attachment ideology proposes that a child is born preprogrammed to develop associations with others (Bowlby, 2018). Bowlby believed that this attribute helped children to survive in the world. According to him, children have an innate requirement to associate with a single primary attachment figure and is and this is referred to as monotherapy. Monotropy proposes that in a person’s life, there is one type of attachment that is greater than every other relationship. Bowlby’s attachment theory suggests that when it comes to attachment, there exists a vital development period, which is about two and a half years (Rutter & Woodhouse, 2019). If the child does not form any form of attachment then they might not be able to do so from this point. He further suggests that at the age of five years, a person is at a sensitive age. The purpose of this paper is to discuss Bowlby’s attachment ideology and its importance when it comes to forming relationships.

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There are several stages that a person must experience while growing up. The first stage is the trust vs. mistrust (secure attachment) stage, which occurs during early childhood. According to research, the trust vs. mistrust stage occurs between zero and 3 months (Bowlby, 2018). Bowlby proposes this period is the most important stage in a child’s life. The reason for this is that the child is able to bond with the primary caregiver. As a result, he or she will develop positive attachment towards other people. According to Bowlby’s attachment theory, attachment is formed when the primary caregiver is always available (Janetsian-Fritz et al., 2018). My person has a positive world view as well as a good personality. From my assessment, this person had a good upbringing and the mother was always around thereby shaping his behavior.

The trust vs. mistrust stage requires a primary caregiver to build trust with the child. To ensure that the child does not develop to become a person with trust issues, the parent must be around to respond to the baby’s communication. According to Bowlby, if a mother or a primary caregiver is absent during this stage, the child may suffer irreversible attachment issues later in life (Laschinger, 2018). Thus, caregivers are advised to respond to the child’s nonverbal cues because during this time the child cannot speak. These nonverbal cues include crying, which indicates that the child wants something from the primary caregiver. In this case, it can be the affection of the mother or they may need comfort. All these are important to for attachment with the mother thereby ensuring that children do not develop mistrust later in their lives.

The secure attachment stage includes children using their mothers as secure bases of viewing the world. These children can venture into the world; however, if they feel frightened, they always go back to their caregivers for reassurance. In this case, my person always went back to his parents and they would help him through challenging situations. He would be upset when he could not find them, but he always believed that they would come back. When they got back he would happily welcome them and tell them his issues. The parents would listen and help him where they could thereby establishing a stronger bond.

The second stage is when infants are about three to six months old. According to research, this is the time children start differentiating between people. At this stage, they begin reserving their behaviors of attachment for individuals they prefer. The stage is characterized by children being happy when they recognize a person. If the child does not know a given individual, they will just stare at that person. In this case, the child will cry to demonstrate discomfort or protest because they do not know the person. They will only stop crying when the person they are attached to takes care of them. During this time, the child’s preference is limited to at most three people. Among the three, they have one person they prefer the most and usually, according to Bowlby, it is the mother or the primary caregiver. Nevertheless, other researchers dispute this ideology and suggest that attachment depends on the how the baby will interact with another person (Jones-Mason et al., 2019). In other words, if an individual successfully responds to a child’s needs, then the child will form a stronger bond with the person.

I believe that my person had a stronger attachment with the mother. The reason for this is that he prefers to talk with the mother concerning his issues. On rare occasions, he would consult other members of the family. From Bowlby’s perspective, this bond was formed in the second stage. The mother successfully responded to his needs thus forming a strong bond between the child and the mother. The stage is important because it further contributes to the development of the child. When children experience this stage, they grow up to be friendly and secure. If children do not experience this second phase, they would be insecure. As a result, they would nit be able to fully explore the world. The reason is that they lack the ability to rely on their parents for advice.

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The third stage of Bowlby’s attachment theory is between six months and three years. According to studies, this period is characterized by the child forming an intense bond with the caregiver (Menezes et al., 2020). During this time, if the primary caregiver leaves the child becomes anxious due to the separation. At this stage, the child may start to crawl and in most cases, they always follow their favorite person. According to Bowlby, the child’s favorite person is usually the mother. When the primary caregiver returns after a short period, the child often enthusiastically embrace them. When the child is about eight months, he or she begins to be fearful when it comes to strangers. In this case, they may cry or become extra cautious when they encounter strangers. When the child is about a year old, he or she develops a model that they use to identify their most favorite people. This, as earlier mentioned, depends on how the individual responds to their needs.

To find out about how my person experienced this stage, I conducted an interview concerning his childhood. I went to the parents and questioned them about their child and how he was between six months to three years. According to his parents, this person was very cautious when around strangers. They confirmed that this person was even more cautious in new environments. Most of the time he was reluctant to interact with new people and would cry when they wanted to associate with him. According to the parents, this person had started forming relationships with other members of the family such as the sister. As a child, he was more comfortable being handled by the mother. Furthermore, the sister was able to handle him because he already knew her. However, there some situations the sister could not handle and that is where the mother could help. Thus, this proved Bowlby’s maternal deprivation theory. The ideology demonstrated that when a person does not have a primary caregiver, then they would have irreversible developmental issues.

Bowlby’s attachment theory finally describes the fourth stage of attachment development. He does not explain this stage in details; however, he mentions that it entails children understanding their parents or primary caregivers. In this stage, the child comprehends that the caregiver has other commitments. Thus, at this stage, the child is not bothered by the caregiver leaving (Posada & Waters, 2018). The child is fully developed and if the parent did not break the care giving process at an early age, the child will grow without any developmental issues. This describes my person because he is usually secure and composed. He has no attachment issues and associates with others seamlessly.

Bowlby’s theory of attachment had numerous implications since he believed that the primary caregiver can only be the mother. However, very few circumstances involve only the mother providing care for the child. In most cases, there are several people involved in the process of child care. Additionally, in situations where there are many caregivers, a child experiences positive development compared to a situation where the mother is the sole caregiver. Furthermore, a happy mother and working provide better care for her child compare to a stay-at-home mother.

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Bowlby, R. (2018). Fifty years of attachment theory. Fifty Years of Attachment Theory, 11-26.

Janetsian-Fritz, S. S., Timme, N. M., Timm, M. M., McCane, A. M., Baucum II, A. J., O’Donnell, B. F., & Lapish, C. C. (2018). Maternal deprivation induces alterations in cognitive and cortical function in adulthood. Translational Psychiatry, 8(1).

Jones-Mason, K., Behrens, K. Y., & Gribneau Bahm, N. I. (2019). The psychobiological consequences of child separation at the border: Lessons from research on attachment and emotion regulation. Attachment & Human Development, 23(1), 1-36.

Laschinger, B. (2018). Attachment theory and the John Bowlby memorial lecture. Unmasking Race, Culture, and Attachment in the Psychoanalytic Space, 5-9.

Menezes, J., Souto das Neves, B., Gonçalves, R., Benetti, F., & Mello-Carpes, P. B. (2020). Maternal deprivation impairs memory and cognitive flexibility, an effect that is avoided by environmental enrichment. Behavioral Brain Research, 381, 112468.

Posada, G. E., & Waters, H. S. (2018). I. Introduction: The Co-Construction of mother-child attachment relationships in early childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 83(4), 7-21.

Rutter, M., & Woodhouse, S. (2019). Maternal deprivation. Handbook of Parenting, 362-373.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 18). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 18). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points.

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"Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points." PsychologyWriting, 18 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points'. 18 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points." July 18, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points." July 18, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Points." July 18, 2022.