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Deprivation Privation and Separation

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Deprivation Privation and Separation

Attachment is an emotional bond or tie felt towards another person which provides feelings of security and closeness. In caregiver and child relationships, attachment is a two-way emotional bond that is strengthened through reciprocal interactions.

A disruption to attachment is a scenario where an attachment between a child and a caregiver is broken, either temporarily or permanently.

A disruption to attachment can damage a child’s emotional and behavioral development. However, the effects on the child can vary depending on the nature of the disruption to attachment. Generally, the more severe the disruption, the more damage it can cause to the child.

Deprivation Privation and Separation

We will be looking at deprivation, privation, and separation as disruptions to attachment. It is important to define all these terms and to understand the difference between them.

Deprivation Privation and Separation Continuous care from primary caregiver disruption to attachment StudySmarterContinuous care from a primary caregiver is essential to avoid damage from a disruption to attachment. Unsplash.com

What is deprivation of attachment in psychology?

Deprivation is where a child’s attachment to its mother or other caregiver has been significantly broken, due to a period of no care being given to the child. It is a period long enough for the bond between the child and caregiver to be seriously damaged.

In severe cases of deprivation, the bond may be destroyed altogether. This can cause permanent or long-term social and emotional damage to the child.

A child’s mother (the primary caregiver) falls ill and has to be hospitalized for a minimum of six months. This may cause the child to suffer from deprivation due to the loss of care during this time. The attachment between the child and its mother may be seriously damaged or even broken, depending on the length of time the child is deprived of care.

What is privation?

Privation is where a child has never formed a bond or attachment with their mother or any caregiver. Usually, this is because the child has never had a chance to do so.

Having lost their parents in war, a child is raised by social services or institutions. The child is likely to suffer from privation as they never had the chance to form a bond with a caregiver.

What is separation?

Separation is where the caregiver is temporarily absent from the child for a short period of time. Unless separation occurs regularly, it is unlikely that the child will suffer from social and emotional damage.

A child is left with their grandparents for a week whilst their parents attend a wedding in another city. The child is unlikely to suffer from permanent or long-term damage unless they are frequently separated from their parents.

Make sure you understand the difference between separation and deprivation. Although they may sound similar, the scenarios are very different and therefore the effects on the child are also very different. You can revisit the definitions above to strengthen your understanding.

Now that you know how deprivation, privation, and separation can disrupt attachment, we will be looking at the effects that each of these types of disruption can have on a child.

The effects of deprivation on attachment

The main psychological research we will be considering is John Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation and his study of the 44 thieves.

Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation

In 1953, Bowlby discussed the effects of maternal deprivation on the long-term development of the child. His maternal deprivation hypothesis states that if the attachment bond between mother and child is significantly disrupted (maternal deprivation), the child may suffer from:

  • Lower intelligence levels.

  • Increased aggression.

  • Depression.

  • Delinquency.

Deprivation Privation and Separation Delinquency result of maternal deprivation StudySmarterAccording to Bowlby, delinquency is one of the potential results of maternal deprivation. Unsplash.com

Bowlby believed the effects of maternal deprivation on social, emotional and intellectual development were permanent and irreversible. He also stated that children who suffered detrimental effects from maternal deprivation are more likely to commit offences and develop affectionless psychopathy.

Affectionless psychopathy is the inability on the part of an individual to experience guilt for their actions or empathy for others.

This can cause a higher likelihood of committing crimes and can hinder the formation of healthy relationships with others.

Bowlby suggested continuous care from a mother or another primary caregiver was essential to avoid any damage caused by disruption to attachment.

Bowlby’s study of 44 thieves

In this study, Bowlby aimed to test the maternal deprivation hypothesis by investigating the link between maternal deprivation and criminal behaviour.

Procedure for the main group:

  • 44 teenagers accused of stealing were interviewed along with the teenagers’ families.

  • Through the interviews, Bowlby established whether the teenagers had been separated from their mothers during their childhoods.

  • Bowlby also tested the teenagers for affectionless psychopathy.

A control group was set up with 44 non-criminal but emotionally damaged teenagers. They were interviewed using the same procedure as in the main group. The two groups were compared to see if there was any correlation between maternal deprivation and emotional development.

Bowlby’s findings:

  • Of the 44 teenagers in the main group (accused of stealing), 14 could be described as affectionless psychopaths.

  • Of the 14 affectionless psychopaths, 12 had experienced maternal deprivation in the first two years of their lives.

  • Of the 44 in the control group (not accused of stealing), none were affectionless psychopaths. Only two of the 44 in the control group were maternally deprived.

Deprivation Privation and Separation Bowlby study 44 thieves findings StudySmarterA visual representation of the findings in Bowlby’s study of 44 thieves. StudySmarter Originals

Bowlby concluded that early maternal deprivation caused affectionless psychopathy, which in turn led to crime. The conclusion supports the maternal deprivation hypothesis as it shows that deprivation can cause long-term and serious damage to social and emotional development.

Evaluation of Bowlby’s maternal deprivation theory and findings

  • The findings of the 44 thieves study may have been influenced by experimenter bias as it was Bowlby himself interviewing the teenagers. He may have had an interest in proving his maternal deprivation hypothesis correct, possibly affecting the validity of his findings.

  • The conclusions of the study are more correlational than causational. Although a link was found between maternal deprivation and affectionless psychopathy, it does not mean the former causes the latter. Rutter (1972) stated that other factors such as family issues may have had an impact.

  • The participants of the study were taken from a London clinic in the 1940s. The findings cannot be generalized; they have low population validity. Having a low population validity means a finding cannot be applied to the general population as a whole.

  • The maternal deprivation theory has considerable research support, including Goldfarb (1947), Silver (1967), Spitz (1945), and Hodges and Tizard (1989).

The effects of privation on attachment

The main psychological research we will be considering is the case study of Genie as reported by Curtiss (1977), and the case study of the Czech twins as reported by Koluchova (1976).

Curtiss (1977) and the study of Genie

Genie (an alias) was found at the age of 13 in Los Angeles, USA, in 1970, by welfare officers who discovered that she had been abused her whole life. She had been kept tied to a potty chair in a small, silent room and her movement was restricted by a straitjacket since she was a toddler. She was physically punished by her father for making any noises such as speaking or crying.

As a result, she was unable to speak. Her physical condition resembled that of a 6 or 7-year-old as she was underweight. She could not fully extend her limbs or focus her eyes and she had nearly double the number of teeth. She could not control her bowel movements as she was never potty trained and continued wearing ‘nappies’ at 13. She was stated to be a feral (wild) child.

Doctors, linguists and psychologists were interested in whether she could learn how to communicate and learn language skills. After she was found, she showed signs of progress as she learned to play, dress herself and draw sketches of what she wanted. She could form relationships with those around her, such as her doctors.

She learned to speak a few words. However, she could not form full sentences or grasp grammar. Curtiss, who documented Genie’s progress, said that she was past the crucial age of learning how to form sentences, which is between the ages of five and ten.

Genie is now 64 and remains in state care, the location of which is kept private by Californian authorities. The details of her condition and progress are unknown, including whether she can communicate fully and interact normally with people.

Genie’s is an extreme case of privation and suggests that children facing severe conditions of abuse, neglect or social isolation may have permanent and serious developmental damage. In cases such as Genie’s, it is likely that the effects of privation are irreversible.

Koluchova (1976) and the study of the Czech twins

In 1960 in (the former) Czechoslovakia, two identical twin boys were born in a children’s home. Their biological mother died in childbirth. They spent almost a year there before being handed to the care of their father and stepmother. The stepmother treated the twins cruelly and kept them in a small, cellar-like space. They did not form attachments with any caregivers.

When discovered at the age of seven, it was found they had poor speech and difficulty walking due to nutrient deficiencies. Jarmila Koluchova reported the twins’ conditions and progress. They were adopted and cared for well by two sisters. At the age of 14, they were tested for development and psychologists found no long-term or detrimental effects of privation. They grew into healthy adults, found employment and had formed relationships with others.

The study of the Czech twins suggests it is possible to reverse the effects of privation and to achieve long-term developmental recovery.

The differences in recovery from privation between Genie and the Czech twins

It is believed that several factors were responsible. These are outlined below.

FactorGenieCzech twins
Age at discoveryDiscovered at 13Discovered at 7
Living conditionsGrew up aloneGrew up together
Brain conditionsFather claimed she was born with brain damageNo brain damage discovered
Quality of care after discoveryUnstable and poor quality of care due to abusive foster parents and inconsistency in caregiversGood quality of care after adoption in a stable home environment

Evaluation of research into privation

  • The main research into the effects of privation is through case studies. Whilst they provide in-depth information, case studies are not generalisable as the conditions of the case study are unique. It is difficult to make generalizations or theories based on case studies.

  • There are major ethical concerns in studying the effects of privation, as psychologists need to balance between safeguarding the victim and carrying out adequate research. In Genie’s case, there were several claims of psychologists and doctors’ exploiting’ her unique situation to advance their careers.

  • However, as mentioned above, case studies provide significant detail into the effects of privation as the subject’s progress is often monitored over years.

  • Although each victim of privation experiences unique conditions, some comparisons (as made above) can be made to explain the differences in recovery from privation.

The effects of separation on attachment

The main psychological research we will be considering is the protest-despair-detachment (PDD) model by John Robertson and John Bowlby (1952) . This model considers the effects of short-term separation.

The effects of short-term separation by Robertson and Bowlby (1952)

Robertson and Bowlby suggested that the effects of short-term separation may be the same as the effects of deprivation despite the difference in the scenarios. They found that short-term separation can result in long-lasting emotional damage. They suggested that children follow the protest-despair-detachment (PDD) model, which is outlined below.

Aim :

To investigate the effects of short-term separation on children.

Procedure :

Robertson and Bowlby observed children aged 1-4 years old in residential nurseries and filmed their responses when separated for a short period of time from their primary caregivers. Children were therefore observed in a naturalistic environment.

Findings :

It was found that children went through the following three stages when separated from their caregivers.

  1. Protest

  • Immediate reactions involved crying, kicking, screaming, attempting to stop the caregiver from leaving.

  • Some rejected comfort and attention from other caregivers (such as the nursery staff) whilst others clung to it.

  • This stage lasted, depending on the length of the separation, for a few hours or a few weeks.

2. Despair

  • Children displayed signs of acceptance of the situation, or helplessness. They appeared to be in mourning.

  • They comforted themselves through thumb-sucking or rocking and withdrew interest in their surroundings or other people.

  • Individual attachment styles were assessed using the Strange Situation classifications, which showed how much despair the child experienced. The Strange Situation procedure was an experiment conducted by Mary Ainsworth in 1978. She found three main attachment styles in children; secure attachment, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-resistant attachment.

3. Detachment

  • Children began engaging with others and appeared sociable.

  • When the caregivers returned, children showed indifference or anger at the caregiver for leaving. This suggests children may have been masking their feelings with outward sociability.

  • Some children needed to relearn their relationship with the caregiver.

Bowlby noticed that the effects of the short-term separation lasted for several months after the separation ended and even resulted in separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is the fear of being separated from the caregiver in the future.

He also stated that children aged between seven months and three years were the most susceptible to experience long-lasting effects of separation.

Conclusion :

Short-term separations can have negative long-lasting effects similar to those of deprivation. According to Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis, this can cause long-term social and emotional damage to the child.

Evaluation of research into short-term separation

  • It is not necessary that short-term separation leads to social and emotional problems. The conclusions are correlational and there could be multiple factors responsible for the child’s later problems. For example, the quality of care from the caregiver could be responsible for delinquency and / or emotional problems, not necessarily separation.

  • Research by Clarke and Clarke (1976) shows that children that were subject to severe deprivation were able to recover. This suggests earlier difficulties can be overcome and that effects are not necessarily long-lasting or detrimental.

  • Not all children go through the stages in the PDD model. Experiences and coping strategies vary significantly depending on age, gender, past experiences, family income and personality. James and Joyce Robertson, between 1967 and 1976, became foster parents for young children experiencing short separations due to the hospitalization of their mothers. They found that the PDD model was not the default response from the children if the quality of care during the separation was good.

  • However, the Robertsons filmed ‘John’ in 1969; he was then a 17-month-old placed in the care of a residential nursery for nine days. His behavior closely resembled the stages in the PDD model. This shows support for Robertson and Bowlby’s research.

  • Robertson and Bowlby’s research did not have observer bias as they filmed the children using time-sampling methods . This means they did not simply film the children only when they thought it would help their research. This adds to the validity of the findings.

Deprivation Privation and Separation - Key takeaways

  • Deprivation, privation, and separation are all types of disruptions to the attachment. A disruption to attachment is a scenario where an attachment between a child and a caregiver is broken, either temporarily or permanently.
  • A disruption to attachment can damage a child’s emotional and behavioural development.
  • Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis and study of the 44 thieves suggest that deprivation can cause long-term and serious damage to social and emotional development.
  • The study of Genie suggests that the effects of privation are irreversible. However, the study of the Czech twins suggests that it is possible to make a full recovery from privation. A lot of research into privation is through case studies, which have their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Robertson and Bowlby (1952) suggested that the effects of short-term separation may be the same as the effects of deprivation. They developed the protest-despair-detachment (PDD) model.

Frequently Asked Questions about Deprivation Privation and Separation

Research has found that the impact of being deprived of attachment from a caregiver can lead to damage to social, emotional and intellectual development. John Bowlby believed the effects were permanent and irreversible. The findings in his 44 thieves study showed that 12 out of 14 children with affectionless psychopathy were maternally deprived, which supports Bowlby's theory.

Deprivation is where a child's attachment from their mother or other caregiver has been significantly broken due to no care given to the child during that time. It is a period long enough for the bond between the child and caregiver to be seriously damaged.

Separation refers to the temporary absence of the caregiver from the child. Unless separation occurs regularly, it is unlikely that the child will suffer from social and emotional damage. However, deprivation is where the caregiver has been absent for long enough or frequently enough for attachment between the child and caregiver to be significantly damaged or even broken. An example of deprivation is where the child is taken from the caregiver and placed in institutional care.

Separation is where the caregiver is temporarily absent from the child for a short period of time.

Final Deprivation Privation and Separation Quiz

Question

When was the maternal deprivation theory proposed?

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Answer

In 1953.

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Question

Who proposed the maternal deprivation theory?

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Answer

John Bowlby.

Show question

Question

What is deprivation?

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Answer

Deprivation refers to when a child loses their primary caregiver, which disrupts their attachment to them.

Show question

Question

What is separation?

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Answer

When mother and child are separated for a short period.

Show question

Question

What is privation?


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Answer

When a child never has the opportunity to form an attachment with their mother.

Show question

Question

 What is an example of deprivation?


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Answer

An example of long term deprivation could be when a child is placed into foster care during the critical period, permanently disrupting their attachment to their mother.

Show question

Question

What is an example of privation?

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Answer

An example of privation could be a child placed into the care system almost immediately after birth. As a result, they did not have enough time to attach to their mother and, due to the nature of foster homes, are unable to attach to any of the rotating staff members.

Show question

Question

What is an example of separation?

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Answer

An example of separation could be if the mother goes on a weekend away and leaves their baby with her grandparents.

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Question

What is affectionless psychopathy?

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Answer

It is the inability to experience guilt or empathy for others. Affectionless psychopathy prevents the person from developing normal relationships and is associated with criminality.

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Question

What are the three levels of distress in the PDD Model?

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Answer

Protest, Despair, Detachment.

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Question

What was found in the 1947 study by Goldfarb?


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Answer

Children who had spent over three years in foster care had a lower IQ, and showed more social immaturity and aggression than children who had spent less than three years in the system.

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Question

Why is the 44 thieves study subject to experimenter bias?

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Answer

Since Bowlby himself was conducting the interviews and likely had a vested interest in proving his theory correct, this bias affects the validity of the study.

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Question

What was measured in the 44 thieves study?

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Answer

IQ, emotional attitudes to testing, affectionless psychopathy.

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Question

What was found in the 44 thieves study?

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Answer

Bowlby found that 14 of the 44 thieves could be affectionless psychopaths. He concluded that prolonged early separation/deprivation caused affectionless psychopathy.

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Question

Does the case study by Kolochova support or refute Bowlby’s idea that maternal deprivation causes affectionless psychopathy?


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Answer

Support.


Show question

Question

What is a disruption to attachment?

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Answer

A disruption to attachment is a scenario where an attachment between a child and a caregiver is broken, either temporarily or permanently. Deprivation, privation, and separation are disruptions to attachment.

Show question

Question

What is deprivation?


Show answer

Answer

Deprivation is where a child's attachment from their mother or other caregiver has been significantly broken due to no care given to the child during that time. It is a period long enough for the bond between the child and caregiver to be seriously damaged or even broken altogether. Deprivation can cause permanent or long-term social and emotional damage to the child.

Show question

Question

What is privation?


Show answer

Answer

Privation is where a child has never formed a bond or attachment with their mother or any caregiver. Usually, this is because the child has never had a chance to do so.

Show question

Question

What is separation?


Show answer

Answer

Separation is where the caregiver is temporarily absent from the child for a short period of time. Unless separation occurs regularly, it is unlikely that the child will suffer from social and emotional damage.  

Show question

Question

What is affectionless psychopathy and which theory does it come from?


Show answer

Answer

Affectionless psychopathy is the inability on the part of an individual to experience guilt for their actions or empathy for others. This can cause a higher likelihood of committing crimes and can hinder the formation of healthy relationships with others. This comes from Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation, which states that if the attachment bond between the mother and child is significantly disrupted, the child could suffer from permanent and irreversible damage to social, emotional and intellectual development.

Show question

Question

In Bowlby's study of the 44 thieves, what were the findings of the teenagers in the main group?


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Answer

Bowlby found that out of the 44 teenagers accused of stealing, 14 were affectionless psychopaths. Out of the 14, 12 had experienced maternal deprivation in the first two years of their lives.

Show question

Question

What was the conclusion of Bowlby's 44 thieves study?


Show answer

Answer

Bowlby concluded that early maternal deprivation caused affectionless psychopathy, which led to crime. The conclusion supports the maternal deprivation hypothesis as it shows that deprivation can cause long-term and serious damage to social and emotional development.

Show question

Question

What kind of bias do the findings of the 44 thieves study display? Hint: Bowlby interviewed all 'thieves' himself!

Show answer

Answer

The findings of the study show experimenter bias as Bowlby interviewed the 'thief' teenagers himself. He had an interest in proving his maternal deprivation hypothesis correct.

Show question

Question

What does the case study of Genie suggest about the effects of privation?


Show answer

Answer

Genie's extreme case of privation suggests that children facing severe conditions of abuse, neglect or social isolation may experience permanent and serious damage to development. In cases such as Genie's, it is likely that the effects of privation are irreversible.

Show question

Question

What does the case study of the Czech twins suggest about the effects of privation?


Show answer

Answer

The study of the Czech twins suggests it is possible to reverse the effects of privation and to achieve long-term developmental recovery.

Show question

Question

Which factors are likely to be responsible for the differences between the recoveries of Genie and the Czech twins from privation?


Show answer

Answer

The twins were discovered at an earlier age, had each other for support, did not seem to have any brain damage, and received good quality care after being adopted into a stable home environment. Contrastingly, Genie was discovered at a later age, grew up alone, may have been born with brain damage, and had poor quality and unstable care.

Show question

Question

Name two issues with using case studies to research privation.


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Answer

One issue is that case studies are not generalizable as the conditions of each case study are unique. It is difficult to make generalizations about privation and recovery. Another issue is that there are major ethical concerns in researching the effects of privation, as psychologists must balance between safeguarding the victim and carrying out adequate research.

Show question

Question

What link did Robertson and Bowlby (1952) make between separation and deprivation?


Show answer

Answer

Robertson and Bowlby suggested that the effects of short-term separation may be the same as the effects of deprivation despite the differences in the scenarios.

Show question

Question

What is the PDD model?


Show answer

Answer

The PDD model is the process that children go through when experiencing short-term separation, according to Robertson and Bowlby (1952). The PDD model stands for protest-despair-detachment.

Show question

Question

What did James and Joyce Robertson find between 1967 and 1976?


Show answer

Answer

James and Joyce Robertson found that the PDD model was not the default response from children experiencing separation if the quality of care during the separation was good.

Show question

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