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Becoming Attached

First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

By Robert Karen
15-minute read
Audio available
Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love by Robert Karen

This book is about the importance of children’s first relationships, especially with their primary caregiver, typically the mother. It offers insights into the ways that attachment can positively or negatively affect children’s development, and offers a great deal of scientific research on important findings concerning attachment.

  • Anyone interested in psychology
  • Anyone interested in child care
  • Parents or anyone about to become a parent

Robert Karen is a clinical psychologist and the author of several successful books on psychology, the most recent of which is The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection. He is also assistant clinical professor at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies.

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Becoming Attached

First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

By Robert Karen
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love by Robert Karen
Synopsis

This book is about the importance of children’s first relationships, especially with their primary caregiver, typically the mother. It offers insights into the ways that attachment can positively or negatively affect children’s development, and offers a great deal of scientific research on important findings concerning attachment.

Key idea 1 of 9

The strong bond between children and their parents or other caregivers is called attachment.

How much can you remember about your early childhood? Probably not much. But you’ll definitely remember the person who cared for you: your primary caregiver. In most cases, children’s primary caregiver is their mother. The special connection between children and their main caregiver is called attachment.

Attachment is a very complex process that children begin in their first year of life. It’s a basic biological need for a simple reason: children can’t survive on their own.

Attachment develops in different phases. In the first weeks of their lives, newborns don’t have any preference for their mothers. But, after a few weeks, they can differentiate between faces and recognize their mother or other primary caregiver. As they continue to grow, they show signs of distress if their caregiver isn’t nearby. This is the start of attachment.

Researchers have studied monkeys to gain some understanding of attachment. In one study, they separated baby monkeys from their mothers right after birth and raised them in a cage that had two fake “mothers” made out of wire. One of the “mothers” had a soft cloth wrapped around it, and the other had a feeding nipple. They wanted to see which of the mothers the baby monkeys would prefer.

In the end, the baby monkeys spent most of their time cuddling with the cloth mother, and went to the other one only for food. Their needs for warmth, love and attachment were more important to them than eating.

Although attachment is something that we’ve all experienced, the study of it is rather controversial. There are many disputed theories, and people within the field often try to push parents into a certain parenting style. In the following blinks, we’ll learn more about these different theories.

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