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John Bowlby

John Bowlby

John Bowlby was a notable British psychologist, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, well known for his works on child development and the development of attachment theory. He strongly believed that behavioural problems as well as mental health issues have its deep roots in problematic early childhood. Born on 26th February, 1907 in London,  he was raised by a nanny. He belonged to an upper middle class family, so he did his schooling from a boarding school as was very common for the boys of his social status. He spent a particularly hard time at the boarding school where he suffered from lack of parental care and affection. It was this childhood suffering that led him to develop the theories on child development.

Bowlby attended Trinity College at Cambridge where he studied pre-clinical sciences and psychology. He graduated from there winning the title for outstanding intellectual performance. After that, he started studying at University College Hospital in London at the age of twenty-two. He gained his degree of medicine at the age of twenty-six. While studying medicine he enrolled at the Institute of Psychoanalysis. He graduated from there in 1937 as a qualified psychoanalyst. He was also trained in adult psychiatry from Maudsley Hoapital.

John Bowlby was the pioneer behind the development of attachmenmt theory. He presented his work entitled as “A Secure base” in 1988 in which he emphasized on the need of parental love and care for a child. Besides that, he also developed understandings in the field of evoloutionary biology, cognitive science, control systems theory, developmental psychology and biology. He worked with  renowned scientists such as Konrad Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen in the field of ethology. He developed explanatory hypothesis about human attachment behaviour by researching extensively on the ethology literature. He gave the concepts of human behavior that are environmentally stable and rejected the cupboard love attachment theory. John Bowlby described the concept of attachment as the lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. He shared his psychoanalytic view that early childhood experiences have a significant impact on the development and behavior of children in their later life. He believed that attachment also helps in survival, suggesting that children are biologically pre-programmed to create attachments with others around them in order survive in this world. He believed that attachment behaviors are present in instincts that are activated when a child faces any threatening conditions to his survival like fear, insecurity and separation.

Bowlby’s  attachment theory is very crucial in understanding social development in early childhood as it highlights factors that relate to the formation of a child’s relationships. His attachment theory consists of monotropy which reflects a child’s inborn need to form a primary bond with his mother. He also suggested that there should be a deep and intimate attachment between a child and his mother for the first two years so that the child does not face maternal deprivation in his later life. Bowlby’s last work consisted of a biography of Charles Darwin. He died on 2nd September 1990.

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