This paper reports on the attachment theory and how life experience affects one’s emotional attachment to others. Attachment theory advanced by John Bowlby in the early 1950s, seeks to explain how early life relations affects an individual’s emotional bonding in future Hutchison (89). The theory gives an understanding of the different personalities as relates to emotional relationships. The theory was first focused on the relationship between children and their parents, but was later expanded to look at the whole lifespan. The theory looks at ones attachment as being influenced by both psychological conditions and the social environment.
The Attachment Theory and Life Experiences
According to the proponents of the attachment theory, children develop a bond with their caregivers, which grow into an emotional bond.
Further research on the theory indicates that life experiences in childhood direct the course of one’s personality as well as the social and emotional development throughout his or her life. Besides the explanation advanced by the theory regarding the connection between a baby and its mother or a care giver, the theory also seeks to explain the attachment between adults Hutchison (43). Among adults, an emotional attachment is felt more especially during bereavement or separation of spouses. Babies are born without the ability to move or feed themselves. They depend on care givers to for these needs; they however have pre-programmed set of behavior that comes into action due to the environmental stimuli. Environmental stimuli may trigger a sense of fear or distress in the baby making it cry for help from the mother or the care giver. The protection or comfort offered to the baby makes it develop a stronger emotional bond with the mother and others who are closer to it. Children grow to relate comfort from distress to the people who are close to them during their early stages of development.
The nature of the environment a child grows in, together with the “psychological framework builds up a child’s internal working model” Hutchison (52). The internal working model comprises of the development of expectations that an individual perceives in social interactions. The theory explains the effect of challenging parenting such as; neglect or abuse. Parents and caregivers should endeavor to develop an environment that makes children feel secure and comfortable. The type of relationship parents establish with their children at their early stages of development determines the type of emotional attachment a child develops with them. A child who grows up in a loving and sensitive environment develops secure relationships in with others. Such a child grows to recognize others as being caring, loving and reliable.
They also develop high self esteem and learn to deal with negative feelings. Research indicates that people who grow up in secure attachment relationships are able to demonstrate good social aptitude throughout their life. On the contrary, children brought up in unsecure environment develop an avoidant attachment. An unsecure environment to children is often characterized by fear, anxiety and rejection.
This type of environment makes a child make children to downplay their emotional feelings. There is a group of children who grow up with care givers that are not consistent in responding to their emotional needs. Their care givers are sometimes sensitive, and sometimes insensitive to their feelings. Such children develop “an attachment seeking habit as they try to conquer the insensitivity of their caregivers” Hutchison (34). This sort of behavior by children is referred to as ambivalent attachment, where the children seek to compensate for the inconsistent responsiveness by the caregiver. Such a child tries to manage other people’s attention through behavior sets such as; seduction, bullying rage and necessity.
Hutchison, Elizabeth. Dimensions of human behavior: The changing life course. 4th Ed.
Thousand oaks, CA: Sage publications, 2011. Print