The Nature And Nurture Of Love: From Imprinting To Attachment In Cold War America

Paperback | August 20, 2014

byMarga Vicedo

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The notion that maternal care and love will determine a child’s emotional well-being and future personality has become ubiquitous. In countless stories and movies we find that the problems of the protagonists—anything from the fear of romantic commitment to serial killing—stem from their troubled relationships with their mothers during childhood. How did we come to hold these views about the determinant power of mother love over an individual’s emotional development? And what does this vision of mother love entail for children and mothers?
           
In The Nature and Nurture of Love, Marga Vicedo examines scientific views about children’s emotional needs and mother love from World War II until the 1970s, paying particular attention to John Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment behavior. Vicedo tracks the development of Bowlby’s work as well as the interdisciplinary research that he used to support his theory, including Konrad Lorenz’s studies of imprinting in geese, Harry Harlow’s experiments with monkeys, and Mary Ainsworth’s observations of children and mothers in Uganda and the United States. Vicedo’s historical analysis reveals that important psychoanalysts and animal researchers opposed the project of turning emotions into biological instincts. Despite those substantial criticisms, she argues that attachment theory was paramount in turning mother love into a biological need. This shift introduced a new justification for the prescriptive role of biology in human affairs and had profound—and negative—consequences for mothers and for the valuation of mother love.

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The notion that maternal care and love will determine a child’s emotional well-being and future personality has become ubiquitous. In countless stories and movies we find that the problems of the protagonists—anything from the fear of romantic commitment to serial killing—stem from their troubled relationships with their mothers during...

Marga Vicedo is associate professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:332 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:August 20, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022621513X

ISBN - 13:9780226215136

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1 From Imprinting to Attachment

CHAPTER 1  Mother Love as the Cradle of the Emotional Self
Introduction
Becoming Emotional
Between Overprotection and Deprivation: The Mother-Child Dyad Takes Center Stage
John Bowlby: The Mother as the Psychic Organizer
Conclusion

CHAPTER 2  The Study of Instincts
Introduction
Ethology: Lorenz and Tinbergen Search for the Biological Basis of Behavior
The Nature of Instincts
Imprinting
The WHO Meetings: Imprinting from Birds to Infants
Conclusion

CHAPTER 3  Bowlby’s Ethological Theory of Attachment Behavior: The Nature and Nurture of Love for the Mother
Introduction
From Natural Description to Social Prescription: Infants’ Needs and the Tragedy of Working Mothers
Challenging the Studies on Maternal Deprivation
Uniting Psychoanalysis and Ethology: The Nature of the Child’s Tie to the Mother
The Power of Natural Love
Conclusion

2  Challenging Instincts

CHAPTER 4  Against Evolutionary Determinism: The Role of Ontogeny in Behavior
Introduction
Daniel Lehrman: Against Konrad Lorenz’s Theory of Instincts
Behavior without Predetermination: Lehrman on Maternal Care
The Impossibility of Isolating the Innate
Hinde against Drives
Critique of Imprinting
Lorenz’s Defense
Lehrman Redux
Conclusion

CHAPTER 5  Psychoanalysts against Biological Reductionism
Introduction
Freud on Instincts
Psychoanalysis and Ethology: Natural Allies?
Anna Freud
Max Schur
René Spitz
Conclusion

CHAPTER 6  Primate Love: Harry Harlow’s Work on Mothers and Peers
Introduction
Harry Harlow
In Search of the Origins of Love: Contact or Food?
The Machine (or the Father) in the Nursery
The Machine Produces Monsters: Bring Back Natural Mother Love
The Power of Peers
The Moral of the Story: Surprise!
Conclusion

3  Naturalizing Nurture

CHAPTER 7  The Nature of Love: Mary Ainsworth’s Natural Experiments, Experimental Observations, and the Reification of Feelings
Introduction
Mary Ainsworth: From Assistant to Defender
Patterns of Behavior: From Uganda to Baltimore via London
Assumptions and Displacements: From Relation to Correlation to Causation
The Biological Foundations of Attachment
Conclusion

CHAPTER 8  Reinforcing Each Other and a Normative View of Nature
Introduction
Lorenz Appeals to Psychoanalysis
Bowlby Appeals to Ethology
Normative Nature: From the Natural to the Social
Conclusion

Conclusion
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Vicedo reminds us of the important role historians of science play in unpacking the past while also shedding light on contemporary discussions taking place at the intersection of science and society."