During the first half of the 20th century, the need for connection between mothers and babies was not understood. In fact, mothers were discouraged from picking up a crying baby, because it was thought that reinforcing the crying behavior would spoil the baby. It was not until John Bowlby performed research on orphans, and then children and mothers, that western society came to understand and accept that babies NEED to attach to their caregiver in order to develop properly.
Here are some of Bowlby’s findings, many of which may seem normal and intuitive to you. But remember, this was revolutionary 60 years ago:
*The drive to bond is innate, not learned.
*We are designed to love, emotionally attach, and depend on a few precious others who will be there to protect and attend to our needs. This desire for connection lasts “from cradle to grave”.
*One’s emotional tie is wired before birth and automatic
*Forming a deep mutual bond with another is the first imperative task of the human species.
*We seek out, monitor, and try to maintain emotional and physical connection with our loved one.
*We reach out for our loved ones particularly when we are uncertain, threatened, anxious, or upset.
*We miss our loved ones and become extremely upset when they are physically or emotionally remote; this separation anxiety can become intense and incapacitating.
*We depend on our loved one to support us emotionally and be a secure base as we venture into the world and learn and explore.
Next week we will discuss how attachment applies to adult romantic relationships.