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Child Development

When researches examined the concept of connectedness. They looked at the violence among adolescents in inner cities and they tried to differentiate which kids are more prone to violence and which kids are less prone to violence. They couldnít distinguish them because by economic class previous studies looked at rich kids, poor kids and so on and they found usually richer kids were less prone to violence than poor kids but in this set all these kids were poor so why are some being violent and some not child Development, preschooler, toddler, infant.

They found that the ones that tended not to be violent are the kids that were connected in some way to either their school, religion, family. There was something that made them feel grounded and connected and made a pretty strong case that this feeling of connectedness in adolescence is, in fact, a protective factor against risk. I mentioned social class with poverty, positive school experience and people who are planners.

In general, these protective factors work together to protect against risk but there is a certain limit to how protective they can be and a number of studies show that if you have three or more risks Ė poor, raised by a single parent and asthmatic, chronic disease Ė all risk factors, virtually nothing can protect you. The rates of emotional disturbance and problems in kids with three or more risk factors is very, very high. A few kids will be resilient against that but if you look at them.

One of the key core issues in child psychology is the attachment between the caregiving figure and the child. The people who did this work historically were Spitz and Bolbey. Very interesting, kind of primitive study. They found from the literature that children in very clean environments, raised in foundling homes, grew up retarded or died by age 1. Just to give you some sense of how dramatic this was in the 1880s and 1890s in Europe when children were moved for out of wedlock birth and but into foundling homes the death rate was 70% in year 1 and not because of poor conditions. In fact, conditions were cleaner and cleaner because the theory was that they were dying from infection and therefore they should have less human contact and fewer toys and cleaner surroundings. They were dying from infection but probably after they were depressed which made them vulnerable immunologically.

Now Bolbey and Spitz also then looked at kids being raised in a prison environment. If you were a pregnant woman, criminal, you werenít worthy of having your child raised in a foundling home, you had to raise the child yourself in prison. Those mothers acted like mothers. They played with the kids, they played with neighborhood toys. In fact, they thrived. In fact, in one little study, no child died in prison but they were dying in the much better foundling home. Based on those observations a number of dramatic changes were made, of course, in how children were raised in foster care.

Bolbey sat in a hospital ward and observed infants being left by their mothers and fathers and how they reacted and from that observation came up with three stages Ė protest, despair and detachment. Protest is the first few hours and sometimes longer the child protesting their parent leaving. Despair is the quiet phase the child enters once they know their parent wonít return and detachment occurs because of repeated leavings. As you know in the 1940s there wasnít too much you could do for children in hospitals. They stayed for long periods of time.

If they had a chronic disease you were admitted over and over, you met many different people. Those people developed a very rapid attachment style almost like a car salesman. Isnít it interesting when you go and buy a car you feel like that person has known you for ten years within about 15 minutes? Thatís detachment because after you buy the car they donít know you anymore and that quality of relating is what Bolbey and Spitz were talking about.

Just to tell you it doesnít only happen in car showrooms, children who have been repeatedly in foster care and been in foster home to foster home over the first three or four years of life have the same way of attaching. If youíve had some experience, you can tell within minutes that a child has really not had a standard caretaking figure because of their detachment. Iím not making the claim that all car salesman were in foster care.

The term used for someone who has been truly deprived of a caretaking figure and has a serious problem with attachment in infancy, like if they were raised in a foundling home, is the term anaclitic depression and thatís the depression from lack of adequate contact with a caregiver.

Bolbey expanded this theory dramatically and in his series of books called Separation and Attachment makes the argument that separation anxiety may very well have a survival value. That a child who protests vigorously and gets the attention of their mother may have, in fact, been better protected from lions than a child who didnít and therefore by natural selection weíve selected for people who were vigorous protesters at attachment losses. He makes the point that maybe in addition to Freudís view of sex and aggression as core instincts the third core instinct may be separation anxiety around being left and that those three core instincts are the ones that drive human behavior.

There have been attempts to measure attachment and as you can imagine thatís a very difficult thing to do but a child psychiatrist named Mary Ainsworth created a set of situations where children were left by their mother in a certain pattern, a certain sequence and thatís called the Ainsworth Strain Situation. You may see it on a test or in a article and thatís a different way of classifying or measuring how children react when their parents leave. Thereís certainly a secure way of acting, an insecure, an anxious way of reacting and those are classified for research purposes. They donít want to test whether theyíre all true but at least there was one approach to standardizing attachment measure.

The last point I want to make under attachment is the famous Harlow monkey experiment where Harlow raised monkeys in different attachment formats. Once he raised a number of monkeys where they were in total isolation and those monkeys were frank but crazy. I donít want to get too technical. Then he raised another group of monkeys only with peers and those monkeys were not crazy but those monkeys looked like character disorders. As a matter of fact, they didnít know how to groom, they didnít know how to mate, they didnít know how to have intercourse, they didnít know how to relate. They were characterologically limited monkeys.

At the end of the experiment, he took those monkeys and put them in the zoo with a normal monkey colony and things happen. One was that these monkeys elicited other monkeys to take care of them and a group of monkeys developed, there were monkey therapists, and their job was to get those character disordered monkeys to behave and they did by constantly correcting them. "This is the way you groom. This is the way you screw around. This is the way you eat. Come on. Behave." It took them six months of 24 hour effort to get those character disordered monkeys to become part of the colony and to mate and they did. So thereís hope even if youíre raised in very difficult circumstances.

So thatís the attachment approach model development. The next model which moves a little bit more into sort of the core structures that are built in is the ethological model. Iím not going to spend much time on this except to note that this is where the term critical period comes from. It comes from the work of Lorenz where Lorenz discovered that if you hatch goslings and you expose them to a mother at a certain period, about six or twelve hours depending on what species, at that moment they are ready to attach. In fact, when Conrad Lorenz exposed them to himself, to his tush, at that time, the little goslings followed Conrad Lorenz like he was their mother and from that came the notion of bonding, that there was a period of time in an animalís life where "you see it, you follow it".