Bowlbys Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Attachment is the powerful emotional tie between a baby and his or her mother. One explanation may be found in Bowlby's theory of adolescent pregnancy. John Bowlby first articulated the concept of maternal depression in the 1950s. According to this hypothesis, a children's emotional and social maturation might be compromised over time if they are separated from their mother at a young age. According to Bowlby, a child's natural cognitive well-being requires constant supervision from the mother, and being separated from this person is detrimental to the child's growth.

Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Bowlby's view of what might transpire when the mother-child link is missing or damaged is explained by the parental insufficiency thesis. He theorizes that a student's emotional, psychological, and social growth is severely stunted when attachments are shattered at a young age. John formulated the Maternal Impairment Model to determine how adverse childhood events might disrupt the natural development of an infant's capacity to create secure attachments. Bowlby theorized that a child's mental growth is severely stunted when they are taken away from their mother but rather parent replacement. "Mother-infant attachment in childhood and adolescent years is more vital for mental well-being than are vitamins and carbohydrates for overall fitness," Bowlby parameters revealed. As per Bowlby, children might suffer irreparable damage if they are removed from their mothers at a young age.

Types of Maternal Deprivation

Following are the major types of maternal deprivation −

  • Separation − "Separation" refers to times when a caretaker is not there. If a youngster is separated from their caretakers frequently, the child could experience separation anxiety.

  • Deprivation − Deprivation occurs when something desirable or necessary is denied for a long time. Deprivation, such as removing a caregiver after the kid has formed a connection with them, may have lasting effects on the baby's upbringing.

Effects of Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Bowlby theorized that infants separated from their mothers for an extended length of time during crucial periods have unusually low IQs because of their impaired mental growth. This conclusion was also seen in the research on immigration. Deprivation of a mother may have a devastating effect on a children's character building, and Alexithymia is a condition that might affect a youngster with trouble emotionally developing. Bowlby pointed out that kids whose mothers did not love them may grow up without the capacity for shame or compassion. Those who suffer from possibly as a result of psychopathy are more likely to engage in illegal habits and are unable to form healthy connections with others. Those who are emotionally cold, often known as psychopathic, do not regret their deeds because they cannot empathize with their sufferers.

Limitations of Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

Bowlby's research is supported by clinical interviews conducted years after the events. Bowlby personally supervised the surveys. Therefore, experimental bias is possible due to his motivations for testing the idea. The reliability of the results is compromised as a result of this prejudice. Although this research reveals a connection between a mother's deprivation and affectionless sociopathic habit, it does not prove that paternal insufficiency produces this trait. This is only one of the studies in which Bowlby drew particular bonds rather than causative connections. Rutter said that Bowlby may have overlooked elements like family strife or social standing.

Supports Bowlby's Theory of Maternal Deprivation

It includes −

Goldfarb − Goldfarb discovered that kids who had been in foster care systems for more than three years demonstrated lower IQs, greater social immaturity, and increased aggressiveness compared to those who had been in the institution for shorter periods. Silver hypothesized that the lack of a mother's care throughout a child's development might contribute to the onset of dwarfism. Deprived youngsters were found to be much smaller than their classmates, to have sleep issues, to have a greater appetite, and to have delayed sexual maturation.

Spitz − Spitz discovered that kids in low-income orphanages were often neglected emotionally. As a result, it developed anaclitic depression, a disorder in which one experiences intense self-loathing and anxiety over being left alone.

Hodges − Hodges, as well as Tizard, analyzed data from infants through teenagers in foster families. The kids were catered for properly in establishments but were not encouraged to form relationships with the staff or other students. Researchers discovered that these kids struggled to make friends in their communities.

Freud − Freud researched six Jewish children from Germany after they were torn from their families, mostly during Holocaust. Children were sent to a detention camp between the ages of six months and then a year. Although they received attention from the other convicts, they could not communicate and connect since they were denied access to entertainment. They ended up in an English orphanage three months after the prisoner was freed. They were quite connected to each other, the kids. They were initially quite hostile toward the adults working at the child care center but warmed up to them with time. They kept making growth and eventually became adults who went about their normal lives. They formed a close link with one another, and the personnel at the foster home was attentive and sympathetic to kids' needs, despite their inability to build ties with people in the prison camp.


Bowlby's participation and interpretations may have skewed the results since he created and administered the body himself. Investor groupthink possibly skewed Bowlby's definition of affectionless psychotic symptoms. Although Bowlby showed an association between early isolation and a lack of empathy, causality can sometimes be established. Perhaps a third, as-yet-unknown factor contributed to the apathetic psychotic symptoms. It is possible, for instance, that issues encountered throughout adolescence had little to do with the split itself but rather with the underlying reason for the split.