It’s clear now that not every issue can be traced back to one’s mother.
After all, there is another person involved in the raising (or at least the creation) of a child.
In the 1950s, Harry Harlow was conducting experiments on love and relationships between parents and children, specifically monkey parents and children.
His work showed that motherly love was emotional rather than physiological, that the capacity for attachment is heavily dependent upon experiences in early childhood, and that this capacity was unlikely to change much after it was “set” (Herman, 2012).
Harlow discovered these interesting findings by conducting two groundbreaking experiments.
In the first experiment, Harlow separated infant monkeys from their mothers a few hours after birth.Through his work with children, Bowlby developed a strong belief in the impact of family experiences on children’s emotional and behavioral well-being.Early on in his career, Bowlby proposed that psychoanalysts working with children should take a holistic perspective, considering children’s living environments, families, and other experiences in addition to any behaviors exhibited by the children themselves.Bowlby hypothesized that the extreme behaviors infants engage in to avoid separation from a parent or when reconnecting with a physically separated parent—like crying, screaming, and clinging—were evolutionary mechanisms.Bowlby thought these behaviors had possibly been reinforced through natural selection and enhanced the child’s chances of survival.According to Bowlby, two children sparked his curiosity and drive that laid the foundations of attachment theory.There was an isolated and distant teenager who had no stable mother figure in his life and had recently been expelled from his school for stealing, and an anxious 7- or 8-year-old boy who followed Bowlby wherever he went, earning himself a reputation as Bowlby’s “shadow” (Bretherton, 1992).The question posed above is tongue-in-cheek, but it touches upon an important discussion in psychology—what influences children to turn out the way they do?What affects their ability to form meaningful, satisfying relationships with those around them?The development of this theory gives us an interesting look into the study of child development.Bowlby’s interest in child development traces back to his first experiences out of college, in which he volunteered at a school for maladjusted children.