Attachment and Socialization
The attachment theory lays emphasis on the role of socialization on childhood development and subsequent transition into the adult life behavior. Informed by Sigmund Freud’s discourse on the role of attachment in personality development, the attachment theory has a huge impact on childhood as well as adulthood socialization, including development of pro-social behavior, social competence, antisocial behavior and other behavioral problems (Waters & Richters, 1991). Parental characteristics such as inconsistency, lack of parental warmth, poor supervision and a generally poor upbringing practices breed anxious child-parent attachment and antisocial personality disorder later in life.
The attachment and socialization article recognizes the importance of the child-parent attachment in the socialization process. Within Freud’s psychoanalytic framework, child-parent attachment and the concept of socialization are inseparable (Schmalleger, 2009). Two models of childhood socialization are evident in the article. These are Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and the social learning and cognition theory. In Freud’s model, the infant-mother relationship informs the development of the individual during the life cycle (Waters & Richters, 1991).
Freud identifies the very important concept of identification, where he contends that apart from parental characteristics, children’s personality is determined by societal, cultural and familial characteristics. Anaclitic identification and defensive identification constitute the core of socialization process and formation of superego (Waters & Richters, 1991). These identification mechanisms inform the child’s emotional ties to the parents. Lack of love, care and attention leads the child to the path of anxiety during conscious development. However, Freud’s model has several weaknesses. A major weakness of the model is its generalization and difficulty in operationalizing the key concepts of his theory (Waters & Richters, 1991).
The contemporary perspectives put more emphasis on the basic social learning processes. It utilizes a bottom-up approach to better the understanding of the socialization process. Freud’s insights about the early childhood experiences inform much of the contemporary perspectives. The ethological attachment theory by Bowlby recognizes the importance of the social cognition and learning processes, imitation and modeling as factors that are associated with attachment and identification, and which further influence behavioral patterns (Waters & Richters, 1991).
The article gives special mention to the interactive model. It acknowledges the concepts of attachment and identification in socialization. It utilizes the contrasting views of socialization, the concept of cost benefit as applied in socialization theory and the crucial distinction between penalty and punishment in understanding deviant antisocial behavior (Waters & Richters, 1991). As such, it incorporates the basic tenets of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and the contemporary attachment and socialization theories. It acknowledges the importance of child-parent attachment as envisaged by Freud and draws critical lessons from social cognition and learning in the contemporary perspectives. The attachment identification model points out that a child’s experiences are determined by the relationship between the child-parent attachments.
The validity and implications of attachment theory have a major impact in the field of criminal justice. Individuals diagnosed with antisocial behavior have higher chances of engaging in criminal behavior. Forms of child-parent detachment especially during the early stages of life are a major contributor of antisocial behavior and isolation that are a driving force for engagement in crime (Schmalleger, 2009). In adulthood, studies by psychologists suggest that children who developed without parental love and attachment grow to become frustrated in later life, which in turn breeds an aggressive nature in their personality.
This proves that there is a link between the biological determinants and human aggression (Schmalleger, 2009). Aggression is a recipe and driving force behind criminal behavior. Anxious-resistant and anxious-avoidant attachments resulting from childhood detachment are a major cause of unsecure and antisocial behavior exhibited by many criminals. Specialists in the field of criminal justice therefore gain useful insights about crime statistics and patterns that help them in mitigating criminal activities and maintaining law and order.