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Essay: Mary Ainsworth’s Theories

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
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  • Published: January 15, 2020*
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  • Mary Ainsworth's Theories
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Following the domains of development attachment theory, this self-analytic study covers physical, cognitive, and social/emotional influences regarding Ainsworth’s theory. While taking into account my own relation to these three domains, I should note that my caretaker’s physical, cognitive and social/emotional domains are also to be examined. Prefacing Ainsworth’s attachment theory, John Bowlby attempted to prove that of attachment has biological and evolutionary roots. He theorized that through the predisposition to fondness and affection that a mother has for an infant (ie attachment), a child secures its survival through the aid of the caregiver. Mary Ainsworth then pushes this narrative further, questioning cognitive and social emotional growth or lack thereof, ultimately proving Bowlby’s theory by showing change in development based on levels of attachment.
Ainsworth’s model of attachment (secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-resistant, and insecure-disorganized) provides a backbone for this examination. Growing up, my main caregiver was my mother. My father was constantly away for work and when he was home, he dealt with his stress by lashing out at me. This strained relationship with my father strengthened my bond with my mother, attaching me to her as a secure base to go to when my father got angry. I believe that the category most applicable to my person situation would be insecure-avoidant attachment: ambivalence to the caretaker and avoided or slow greeting upon reunion. Factors affecting these forms of attachment are found in the quality of caregiving. This would relate to Ainsworth’s sensitivity hypothesis, claiming that the child’s attachment has a direct coordination to the caretaker’s treatment of the child. Because my mother was more sensitive and more aware of my needs, she was able to resolve discomfort and provide security. However, my father, was less sensitive and impatient. Thus, my reactions toward him would follow insecure attachment. The inner conflict between a sense of self-respect (instilled by my mother) and self-loathing (instilled by my father) due to the mismatched quality of care I received from my parents lead to social and emotional problems in my teenage years.
To combat the lack of strength in my social/emotional domain, my physical and cognitive domains were over-exerted to compensate. I exercised a minimum of three hours a day, strived to get outstanding grades and cultivated my artistic practice, all in an attempt to control and gain self-esteem, understand my sexual identity, and cope with my emotions. It has taken many years, but as I have worked through and understood my developmental process, I have now been able to identify and heal the various wounded domains and relationships in my life.
Another factor considered during this self study is the notion that, despite my best theorization and the results of my caregiver’s affection, these are outcomes that cannot be scientifically analyzed and proven. Rather, this anecdotal evidences continues the narrative of guesswork proposed by various psychologists throughout the history of the field.

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