In this classic study, Bowlby reports on 88 children seen in the London Child Guidance Clinic during the 1930s. Half of them were referred for stealing, and half for other problems. Bowlby distinguishes several factors which may lead to maladjustment, but was particularly concerned with the hypothesis that prolonged separation of the child from the mother in the early years was a causative factor in delinquent character formation. Such separation, thought Bowlby, was especially instrumental in the development of an 'Affectionless Character' often seen in the persistent offender. Development of this indifferent, or dismissive pattern of attachment protected these children from forming close, personal relationships, hence eliminating 'any risk of allowing our hearts to be broken again.' His first empirical study, Bowlby's comprehensive and detailed analysis of the 44 thieves ushered in his revolutionary human attachment theory and foretells the enormous contribution of his subsequent career.
- Juvenile delinquency
- Maternal deprivation