Fwd: Pioneers of the field

From: Wade Smith (wade_smith@harvard.edu)
Date: Wed 13 Nov 2002 - 14:00:48 GMT

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    Pioneers of the field

    By Ellen Barry, 11/12/2002

    Over the course of the last century, we began to look at babies in a new way. Through the 1950s, scientists described them as bundles of raw appetite, unable to see faces or experience the world around them. The culture followed: Babies were kept from their mothers in maternity wards and parents were admonished not to pick them up when they cried. But several scientists have gradually drawn a picture of newborn humans who can be affected profoundly by their earliest experiences.

    ANNA FREUD - The founder of child psychoanalysis, she altered her father's notions of powerful internal drives such as the ''Oedipus complex'' to describe the unique world of the infant. She described the child's strong attachment to the breast and the powerful desire for nourishment that bound mother and child.

    JOHN BOWLBY - Trained by London psychoanalysts, Bowlby split from them in the 1940s, when he concluded that children bond with their mother as forcefully and emotionally as baby animals do - and that the real relationship was more important than the internal forces espoused by the Freudians, such as libido and aggressiveness. His work was the foundation of ''attachment theory.''

    HARRY HARLOW - In experiments both moving and horrific, Harlow, a primate researcher, examined the enormous developmental changes that result from styles of mothering. In the late 1950s, after separating infant rhesus macaques at birth, he replaced the real mothers with a range of surrogates - some warm, some abusive - and showed that depending on the responsiveness of the mother, the babies turned into adventurous, social creatures, or trembling, alienated outsiders.

    MARY AINSWORTH - Her team extended some of Harlow's principles to human babies. In the 1970s, she invented an experiment called the ''strange situation,'' in which a mother and baby are separated from each other in an unfamiliar environment. When the mother returns, the babies' response varies widely, from joy to distrust. She found that responsive mothers tended to raise children who were ''securely attached,'' affectionate and venturesome - whereas ''insecurely attached'' babies raised by rejecting mothers grew up dependent and poor at problem-solving.

    MARTIN TEICHER - In the last decade, contemporary scientists such as Martin Teicher have examined the effects of early experience - but from the perspective of brain science, not behavior. Using brain imaging techniques, he has shown that abused children develop irreversible changes in brain chemistry and structure.

    This story ran on page C4 of the Boston Globe on 11/12/2002.
    Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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