Applying Modern Attachment Theory, Neurobiology and Self-Psychology Date Modern Attachment Theory The attachment theory states that the goal of early development is for an infant to feel safe and have a view of the caregiver as a secure base from which he can explore the world, thereby leading to a successful infant and caregiver proximity (Applegate and Shapiro, 2005)…
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Therefore, it is important for parents to understand how they can improve their interactions with their babies and actively recognize what is going on as they interact with their children. Both mothers and babies can take lead in interactions and the exchange is always mutual while dyads change and adapt their behavioural and affective states in synchrony in a process called attunement, which restates an affective state. Attunement takes place through different sensory modes such as voice, facial expressions and gestures, when attuning, the mother usually engages in exaggerated actions. Purposeful misattunement takes place when a mother does not match, by either over or under matching an infant’s behaviour in order to alter the level of the baby’s activity or his emotional affect. It can also be called tuning since the mother understands the baby’s emotional state but does not express it to him, although she still maintains attunement with the baby (St.Claire, 2004). Un purposeful or true misattunement is whereby the mother is not able to correctly tell the feeling state of the baby. The perfect environment is one whereby there are both attunement and misattunement to enable a baby to self-regulate. It seems in the case that Shelly formed a disorganized attachment with her caregivers due to the background she has with her parents especially her mother. As a result of the incident at the hospital which involved a man committing suicide, she now views herself as a bad nurse and is depressed even though it is clear that it was not her fault. Disorganized infants generally have contradictory attachment strategy and disoriented behaviours because of having caregivers who are not consistent and end up creating an environment that is very chaotic for the baby. In this case, Shelly’s mother was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive to her, she did not play her motherly role as expected because she would lie in bed for long periods and give Shelly money to get take out for most meals. In the event that Shelly and her sibling were too noisy, she would scream at them and threaten to send them away; at times, she would pack their bags, drop them at the bus station or at the roadside, and leave them for hours; in addition, she experienced sexual abuse as a teenager. Disorganized attachment is clear in Shelly’s situation as instances of frightening behaviour from her primary caregiver are visible, the mother was withdrawn from her and would also mistreat her, this in addition to the abuse she suffered later in life as a teenager. She also continues to care for her sister, who is verbally abusive and demeaning to her, by sharing a house with her while she also does many things for her very needy friends. Her disorganized attachment also comes out clearly, because despite being forty-seven years old and unmarried, she has had only one serious relationship with a man that lasted for two years. She is not able to adequately deal with the situation in hospital and says that she cannot get over it and she in turn gets depressed, this clearly shows that she is not able to self-regulate and cope well with stress. Neurobiological studies show that the first year is the most important of the baby’s brain development due to the impact it has on the infant’
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