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Dr John Bowlby's Research and Family Proceedings

BAD RESEARCH

All,

Research is usually important to judges because they like to believe they are not simply just put into authority, but they speak with authority. Nowhere moreso than in children's welfare.

A source of research is the work of Dr John Bowlby working in the UK after WW2. He put forward the idea of 'maternal deprivation' which got a lot of political backing so that mothers would stay at home to look after children and give up jobs for returning servicemen.

Main Points of Bowlbys Attachment Theory (Saul Mcleod, published 2007)

1. A child has an innate (i.e. inborn) need to attach to one main attachment figure (i.e. monotropy).

Although Bowlby did not rule out the possibility of other attachment figures for a child, he did believe that there should be a primary bond which was much more important than any other (usually the mother).

Bowlby believes that this attachment is different in kind (qualitatively different) from any subsequent attachments. Bowlby argues that the relationship with the mother is somehow different altogether from other relationships.

Essentially, Bowlby suggested that the nature of monotropy (attachment conceptualised as being a vital and close bond with just one attachment figure) meant that a failure to initiate, or a breakdown of, the maternal attachment would lead to serious negative consequences, possibly including affectionless psychopathy. Bowlbys theory of monotropy led to the formulation of his maternal deprivation hypothesis.

The child behaves in ways that elicits contact or proximity to the caregiver. When a child experiences heightened arousal, he/she signals their caregiver. Crying, smiling, and, locomotion, are examples of these signaling behaviors. Instinctively, caregivers respond to their childrens behavior creating a reciprocal pattern of interaction.

2. A child should receive the continuous care of this single most important attachment figure for approximately the first two years of life.

Bowlby (1951) claimed that mothering is almost useless if delayed until after two and a half to three years and, for most children, if delayed till after 12 months, i.e. there is a critical period.

If the attachment figure is broken or disrupted during the critical two year period the child will suffer irreversible long-term consequences of this maternal deprivation. This risks continues until the age of 5.

Bowlby used the term maternal deprivation to refer to the separation or loss of the mother as well as failure to develop an attachment.

The underlying assumption of Bowlbys Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis is that continual disruption of the attachment between infant and primary caregiver (i.e. mother) could result in long term cognitive, social, and emotional difficulties for that infant. The implications of this are vast if this is true, should the primary caregiver leave their child in day care, whilst they continue to work?

3. The long term consequences of maternal deprivation might include the following:

  delinquency,

  reduced intelligence,

  increased aggression,

  depression,

  affectionless psychopathy


Affectionless psychopathy is an inability show affection or concern for others. Such of individuals act on impulse with little regard for the consequences of their actions. For example, showing no guilt for antisocial behaviour.

4. The childs attachment relationship with their primary caregiver leads to the development of an internal working model.

This internal working model is a cognitive framework comprising mental representations for understanding the world, self and others. A persons interaction with others is guided by memories and expectations from their internal model which influence and help evaluate their contact with others (Bretherton, & Munholland, 1999). Around the age of three these seems to become part of a childs personality and thus affects their understanding of the world and future interactions with others (Schore, 2000). According to Bowlby (1969) the primary caregiver acts as a prototype for future relationships via the internal working model.

There are three main features of the internal working model: (1) a model of others a being trustworthy, (2) a model of the self as valuable, and (3) a model of the self as effective when interacting with others.

It is this mental representation that guides future social and emotional behaviour as the childs internal working model guides the responsiveness to others in general.

In the UK this research is translated into Case Laws

'It has also been said that it is not a principle but a matter of observation of human nature in the case of upbringing of children of tender years, that given the normal commitment of a father to support the family, the mother, for practical and emotional reasons, is usually the right person to bring up the children'. (Per Sir Roualeyn Cumming-Bruce in Re H (a minor) 1 FLR 51, CA.1990)
 
'At the risk of being told by academics hereafter that my views are contrary to well-established authority, I think that there is a rebuttable presumption of fact that the best interests of a baby are best served by being with its mother, and I stress the word 'baby'. When we are moving on to whatever age it may be appropriate to describe the baby as having become a child, different considerations may well apply. But as far as babies are concerned, the starting point is, I think, that it should be with its mother.'

 These Case Laws or precedents form the basis of what is termed in court as the 'Tender Years' doctrine.

According to Professor Sir Michael Rutter, who was knighted for his contribution to children's welfare, fathers can be equally important as mothers even to small children,

i. Investigations have demonstrated the importance of a child's relationship with people other than his mother.

  ii.  Most important of all there has been repeated findings that many children are not damaged by deprivation.

  iii. The old issue of critical periods of development and the crucial importance of early years has been re-opened and re-examined. The evidence is unequivocal that experiences at all ages have an impact.

  iv. It may be the first few years do have a special importance for bond formation and social development. ('Maternal Deprivation; Reassessed, 1971, pp.217)


The Baroness Richmond, the first UK female 'Law Lord', described the relative contributions of Rutter and Bowlby in the following way,


'Sir Michael Rutter qualified the original theory of 'Maternal Deprivation' which had been developed by John Bowlby and expressed for popular consumption in a book called  'Child Care and the Growth of Love'. That theory was that children were damaged by separation from their mother or mother figure. Sir Michael Rutter pointed out that children were not invariably so damaged and that, in any event, other people, including their fathers, are also very important to children'.

Nevertheless it is still the Tender Years doctrine that prevails in family proceedings in the UK.

I hope this  helpful,

Kingsley Miller


PS I gave this link once before. I will give it again because many people think Bowlby never meant 'mothers' when he devised 'maternal deprivation'. This article written towards the end of his career shows the opposite. His supporters describe him as the 'father of the attachment theory' although he never did because his contemporaries would never let him!

http://garfield.library.upenn.edu/classics1986/A1986F062900001.pdf


  

Last edit: by Kip


Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
Sir Michael Rutter's work centres on separation from the mother in adoption type situations.  He has not done work into care patterns in post separation situations that I can find.

Since adoption is not a regular feature of family law proceedings I am not clear about what conclusion you are drawing from Rutter's work.

If you are suggesting that infants don't suffer long term damage if they are removed from their primary caregivers and that they are therefore able to adjust to care arrangements which remove them from frequent contact with their primary caregiver I would respectfully suggest you are over extending the conclusions of Rutter's work since adopted children are permanently placed in a family.

However inconvenient it is to us we can't change centuries of biological evolution in one go and expect that babies can be flexible enough to cope with care patterns which see them removed from their primary caregiver for large chunks of time.  The report you mentioned in another post demonstrated this and showed that very young children in shared care settings are generally more irritable and cry more often.  

Infants need consistent care patterns, but as they get older they can cope more with a more changing care pattern.  Of course kids need their fathers and regular, frequent contact with both parents is essential.  The most important thing for littlies is that their care pattern remain predictable and consistent until they find their feet, so to speak.
This Weeks Citation Classic DECEMBER15,1986 Bowlby J. Maternal care and mental health: a report prepared on behalf of the World Health Organization as a contribution to the United Nations programme for the welfare of homeless children. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1951. 179 p.p World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland and Department for Children and Parents, Tavistock Clinic, London, England)

'I believe the monograph has become a Citation Classic because it focused attention on the relationship of a young child to the mother as an important determinant of mental health, with far-reaching practical implications, and has given rise to widespread controversy and extensive research. For a recent evaluation of the field (by an erstwhile critic) see Rutter'. (Rutter M. Maternal deprivation. 1972-l978: new findings, new concepts, new approaches.Child Develop. 50:283-305, 1979).

John Bowlby Child and Family Department Tavistock Clinic London NW3 5BA England September 7, 1986

Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
I am having trouble understanding where you are going with this Kip.  What is the relevance of a 50 year old citation in regard to the "UN programme for the welfare of homeless children" to discussions of family law?  
April,

In your original posting you cited the work of Bowlby and Ainsworth. 'Maternal Care and Mental Health' was the book in which Bowlby coined the phrase 'maternal deprivation' to describe his theory of attachment. In this quotation from 1986, towards the end of his career, he says he is proud of the work because it 'focused attention on the relationship of a young child to the mother as an important 'determinant' of mental health'. Not an 'indicator' or 'risk factor'. (This reference is taken from the LINK in an earlier posting you thought referred to a video.)

In your post you mention Rutter again.

 It was Rutter who said that children do not have a 'sensitive period' but respond to events at all ages.

It was Rutter, not Bowlby, who said that children are not damaged by maternal deprivation.

It was Rutter, not Bowlby, who said children can be cared for by either parent. (Maternal Deprivation Reassessed 1972)

Bowlby mentions Rutter in his 1986 article, as his 'erstwhile critic' (I would say 'nemesis') and cited Maternal Deprivation. 1972-l978: new findings, new concepts, new approaches.Child Develop. 50:283-305, 1979.

You are obviously an expert on Bowlby and Ainsworth but to understand how their work is flawed you need to apprecaite the work of Rutter.

Kingsley Miller

i. Investigations have demonstrated the importance of a child's relationship with people other than his mother.

ii.  Most important of all there has been repeated findings that many children are not damaged by deprivation.

iii. The old issue of critical periods of development and the crucial importance of early years has been re-opened and re-examined. The evidence is unequivocal that experiences at all ages have an impact.

iv. It may be the first few years do have a special importance for bond formation and social development. ('Maternal Deprivation; Reassessed, 1971, pp.217)

'Sir Michael Rutter qualified the original theory of 'Maternal Deprivation' which had been developed by John Bowlby and expressed for popular consumption in a book called  'Child Care and the Growth of Love'. That theory was that children were damaged by separation from their mother or mother figure. Sir Michael Rutter pointed out that children were not invariably so damaged and that, in any event, other people, including their fathers, are also very important to children'. The Baroness Richmond, the only female UK Supreme Court Judge.



http://garfield.librar...s1986/A1986F062900001.pdf

Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
OK Kip, thanks for that I think I see the misunderstanding now.  The things I have talked about in my posts are not directly from Bowlby and only Bowlby.  I mentioned in my earlier post that Bowlby and Ainsworth were the pioneers into infant attachment theory, but they are by no means the final word on the topic.  There has been much research in the field since then, including research by Rutter.  Theories of "maternal deprivation" may be considered outdated, but a lot of the fundamentals of the theories of Bowlby and Ainsworth remain valid today. Nowadays this field of research/knowledge is known as "attachment behaviour".  Contemporary theories of attachment behaviour are not sexist.  Fathers can be attachment figures and primary caregivers just as much as mothers can.  Depends on who wants the job!

Kip, if you wish to find out more there is a very comprehensive book (1000 pages) on attachment theory that you might like to look at.  It contains contributions from all the major contributors to the field, including a chapter co-authoured by Michael Rutter himself.  It is HANDBOOK OF ATTACHMENT: THEORY, RESEARCH AND CLINICAL APPLICATIONS (2nd Ed).  It is edited by Jude Cassidy and Phillip Shaver, published 2008 by Guilford Press NY.  You can purchase it on line or your local university should have a copy if they have a psychology department and you may be able to have a look at it in the library.

Attachment is an extensively studied area in psychology and there is much more recent research in the field than that of Bowlby.

I would caution against choosing one theorist upon which to draw conclusions.  A lot of what Bowlby and Ainsworth had to say is still valid, as is the contributions of Rutter.  But no one theorist has the complete answer.  It all depends on the context in which you are talking, and with consideration to the findings of subsequent research, most of which you will find in the book I mentioned in this post.

Good luck with your endeavours.  I am all for fathers being equally involved in kids' lives.  The job of parenting is way too big for one person.
April,

Bowlby stressed the importance of the mother and devised the term 'monotropy' to describe the relationship with a child which is qualitatively different from any other. As you can see from his article in 1986 he still believed in this theory until the end of his career. Ainsworth's work supported his ideas.

Many people, including yourself, believe Bowlby is the 'father of the attachment theory' in the mistaken belief that he started the idea. This is not so. His work was based on a 'fairy tale' that took the attachment theory down a 'blind alley' which we all too often see repeated in family courts.

I am the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an 'interesting and informative guide', so I hope you don't mind if I chuckle a little at your advice.

I hope others have found our discussion useful and I will be posting another thread on this topic of 'research' later this week.

Kingsley Miller

Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
Why do you keep returning to Bowlby?  I have made the point more than once that the discussion of infant attachment has progressed way past that point.  If you want to keep your argument to theories and research from last century that is your choice.

I agree that toddlers need fathers too.  However, may I suggest that the condescending way that you communicate to people who challenge your opinions may prevent your message from being properly considered.
All,

This posting is to draw attention to a more recent posting on the same subject.

In the above discussion APRIL refers to Bowlby and Ainsworth. In her first postings (Please track back) she was relying on their research to justify her approach to contact and custody disputes. When it was pointed out to APRIL that in fact right up until the end of his career (See Citation Classic, 1986) Bowlby still believed the mother was an important determinant of mental health she changed her tune and accepted that this view is sexist but the up to date version of attachment is not.

Nevertheless throughout the discussion her opinion is dominated by the Bowlby / Ainsworth view of attachment.

I am from the UK but I can see from developments in Australia that the government is heading towards a Neo-Bowlbyism view of attachment based on his discredited theory of 'maternal deprivation'.

This view was reinforced when I discovered that JENN MCINTOSH actually interviewed his son Sir Richard Bowlby for the journal FAMILY COURT REVIEW. He is considered by many within the profession as a 'mountebank' and his ideas are, to put it technically, not very good!

JENN MCINTOSHES guidelines on overnight stays is based on BOWLBY'S concept of MONOTROPY which, again being technical, is not very good.

The work of JENN MCINTOSH is very similar to the ideas of APRIL on this forum and I am really grateful that she has prompted me to write to the NEW Attorney General (COPY) on a NEW THREAD at;

PART ONE; Australian Family Law: The contribution of Dr Jennifer McIntosh and Dr John Bowlby

A major similarity is they both focus on the 'Bowlby Aisworth paradigm' but also APRIL had never heard of the work of Professor Sir Michael Rutter which is the same as JENN MCINTOSH. (He is described as the 'father of modern child psychiatry')

APRIL are you really JENN MCINTOSH in disguise?

kip

PS I am very grateful to all those on this forum for allowing me to express my thoughts.

Kingsley Miller is the author of 'even Toddlers Need Fathers', a critique of the principle of 'Maternal Deprivation' as applied in family courts, which Professor Sir Michael Rutter described as an, 'interesting and informative guide'. He has also received a letter from Buckingham Palace stating, 'It was thoughtful of you to enclose a copy of your book 'even Toddlers Need Fathers' and Her Majesty has noted your concerns'.
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