Robert Karen explores the formation of an infant’s attachment to a parent and discusses how this process can affect a child in the long term. Theoretical concepts examined by the author are largely based on the research conducted by Mary Ainsworth who studied children’s reactions to separations and reunions with their mothers.
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Following Ainsworth, the author distinguishes several attachment patterns, namely secure, ambivalent, avoidant and disorganized attachments. However, Robert Karen focuses more on how the formation of bonds between an infant and a caregiver can shape the personality of child.
The examples that the scholar gives urge parents to be more attentive to their children’s needs because otherwise they can suffer from various psychological problems.
To prove this argument, the author offers various types of evidence. For instance, he points out that lack of parental support and feeling of insecurity can be associated with the school phobia that many children have (Karen, 221). This is only one example that shows how insecurity during infancy can impact a child.
Moreover, he argues a child, who did not receive support from parents at the time when he or she was distressed, is not likely to ask for assistance even if it is really needed (Karen, 221). Such a person will seek independence even though such form of behavior may harm him or her.
Moreover, the author argues that children, who did not develop bonds of attachment with their parents, can feel ineffective or even ashamed of themselves (Karen, 238). The key problem is that such children feel unworthy of their parents’ love and they eventually suffer from inferiority complex or even depression.
Robert Karen also argues that parents should be able to community their feelings and emotions to the children. For example, they need to avoid sudden fits of anger because they can make a child much more reticent and reserved.
However, they should also bear in mind that unexpressed discontent may also be dangerous because children and adolescents sense this tacit discontent, but they may view it as a form of rejection (Karen, 242). This is how parents can unwillingly harm their children.
Certainly, the examples that Robert Karen provides should be critically evaluated. The thing is that the effects identified by this author might have been caused by other environmental factors such as the influence of peers, teachers, or mass media.
There can be only a correlation between a certain type of parent behavior and long-term personal development of a child. Furthermore, one should not forget about hereditary factors that also impact character traits. Yet, one has to consider that the entire attachment theory is a developing area of psychology and its methods and results can become more accurate.
The ideas expressed by Robert Karen can find practical applications. For instance, these findings can be of great use to parents who should learn how to treat their children.
By following the recommendations of Robert Karen, parents can minimize various hypothetical risks such as depression of their children, panic attacks, phobias, feeling of insecurity, or inferiority complex. Secondly, these findings should be taken into account by therapists who treat people of various ages.
On the whole, attachment theory can have significant applications for parents, educators, and psychologists. The ideas advanced and discussed by Robert Karen definitely merit attention and further study because they can help people understand how early childhood experiences influence a person at later stages of his or her life.
Karen, Robert. Becoming attached: first relationships and how they shape our capacity to love. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print.