Report Of Infancy Influence On Depression In Adulthood (Part 3)

3 Attachment Theory and Origin of Depression

Newman and Newman (2004, pp149) described the attachment system as “caregivers provide protection from potential dangers and stressors while allowing the infant opportunities to learn the skills needed to function independently”, while Mallinckrodt(1992, pp454) mentioned that “The consistency with which caregivers respond to these signals forms the earliest basis for the child’s sense of outcome expectancy and self-efficacy”. Attachment is crucial to the development stages not only as the base to initiate the first step for the infant’s growth but also forms his personality, this is supported by Jacobs (2004, pp58) that “As an adult a securely attached person is confident of those with whom he or she closely related”. Evidence of depression development can be explained by Attachment Theory, which separates into two categories base on the “strange situation” experiment:

3.1 Secure Attachment

As described by Bates, Masling and Frankel (Cited by Sidney 2004, pp192), “Sensitive and responsive caretaking throughout the first year of life leads to secure attachment”. It helps with the process of growth, the person is more open with his emotion and he is able to cope with situations more constructively. He will fit our personality profile of Mastery mentioned in (2.1.2);

3.2 Insecure Attachment

Ainsworth, Bell & Stayton (Cited by Sidney, 2004, pp192) reflected that “insecure attachment seems to be related to parental rejection of the infant’s attempts at closeness or an insensitivity to signals from the infant”. The parents do not respond properly to fulfill the needs of the infant. This triggers the defense system in the infant to react in a certain way to remove the pain of dissatisfaction. There are three sub-groups in this category:

3.2.1 Insecure-Avoidance
The infant in this group does not exhibit anxiety to the caregiver on separation. He also avoids the caregiver upon reunion although he is willing to befriend another stranger.

The caregivers as described by Main & Goldwyn (cited by Sidney, 2004, 194) “dismissed attachment relationships as being of little concern, value or influence”. They are enmeshed with their children and often very critical of the infant’s behaviour. They set high standards and are demanding and can be hostile and abusive towards the infant.

I feel that the reason for the infant to avoid the caregiver is to protect himself from further harm, it feels bad to know that you are not up to standard. However, the prolong influence of the caregiver causes the infant to be unsure of the intention behind the abuse. This builds a strong super ego in the person who sets very high standard for himself. He excessively idealize in the task he performs and success becomes very important to him. He is prone to Introjective depression mentioned in (2.2.4).

3.2.2 Insecure-Abivalent
The infant in this group is constantly wary of the existence of the caregiver and is very unsettled during separation. He cries uncontrollably when the caregiver leaves his side. When re-unite with the caregiver, he is not able to calm down. He seems to have a thirst for comfort and continues to cling onto his caregivers.

The caregivers as described by Main et al ( cited by Sidney, 2004, 194) “seems ‘ preoccupied’ with their dependency on their own parents and often ‘still actively struggled to please them’”. They tends not to take care of their children, they are uninvolved and unconcern about what the children was doing.

Lacking in the attention that he needs, the infant continuously strive to let the caregiver aware of his presence with the limited resources available. Thus it leads to constant crying during separation to externalize his fear of desertion. At the same time, he is restricted in his exploration to the outer world and constantly feeling helpless as he lacks in a secure base. This builds a personality of dependence on others. He has an urge to please others in exchange for affiliation. He is therefore prone to the anaclitic depression as described in (2.2.3) should the expectation is not realized.

3.2.3 Insecure-Disorganised
The infant in of this group tends to be unsure what he does during separation and is dazed in re-uniting with his caregiver, their interaction with their caregivers tends to be “punitive or in a ‘pseudo-caretaking’ manner” (Sidney, 2004, pp194).

The caregiver of this group tends to have lost a significant others such as a sibling or major caregiver before their maturity. The infant becomes a substitute to fill the emptiness in the caregiver, as Sidney (2004, pp195) described “parent to their parents”. This affects the child to become
“the overcompensating, subtly hypomanic, seemingly efficacious type of individual who deals with his or her intense depressive dependent longing through denial and reversal-as compulsive-givers” (Bowlby, Cited by Sidney, 2004, pp195)

This person tends to intrude into others life due to his over caring nature. I feel that the denial of depression cause him to externalize the negative affects towards others. However, it is unclear during this study on the type of depression he might fit into.


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