11 October 2015

On attachment, eye contact and interaction

By Marianne Haslev Skånland

A parent recently posted an article on Forum Redd Våre Barn (Forum Save Our Children), a posting with to-the-point descriptions both of how child protection workers reason and argue around their favourite concepts and of how the real needs of children are expressed. He called his article Hva er en far? (What is a father?)

I should like to try my hand at a possible answer to this question. I have to make a detour via science and research, and also something else which poses as science.

"Eye contact" and "interaction" are elements in "attachment theory", which I consider to be practically the most dangerous of all the quackery which child protection services of the Western world and the psychology associated with it have taken to heart. It gives them almost unlimited power to force through meaningless, abusive treatment of families on the pretext of it being scientifically valid.

Central ideas are found in the writings of medical doctor
John Bowlby, who was well-intentioned enough and who has in fact found and launched some sensible things, but who was a psychoanalyst.

The view that eye contact is decisive for the "attachment" of a child is based on the idea that humans are like sheep, goats, cows. In these species it is usual that mother and new-born offspring look at each other directly after birth. In our days this idea has invaded our birth clinics, midwives and nurses being taught to believe that it is necessary for a human mother and her new-born child to stare at each other in order to lay the foundation for attachment between them.

This is faulty reasoning. Behaviour of this kind is found especially among animals that live in close groups, obviously making it easier to be sure which individual is the child of which mother: mother and child smell each other, taste (the mother licks the newborn child, the child suckles its mother), hear each other's voices, and see each other. Human beings have historically not lived in such environments but rather under conditions where there is little likelihood of confusing one child with another. Modern birth clinics and neo-natal wards in hospitals are the closest we come to such crowded conditions, but they are of recent appearance and have not impacted our biological development of instincts and emotions. In animal species where individuals live very close together, like bats, there are some confused identifications, but considering the conditions, the mistakes actually seem strikingly few – certainly far less common than they must have been expected to be if it did not matter which adult care giver took care of which offspring.


From about 1970 and onwards, veterinary surgeon James Herriot (pseudonym) wrote a series of books with delightful stories from his veterinary practice in Yorkshire. On pp 160-61 in the first of them, If only they could talk (Pan Books 1970), we find this little account of sheep and their lambs:

The moments come back; of a bitterly cold evening when I delivered twins on a wind-scoured hillside; the lambs shaking their heads convulsively and within minutes one of them struggling upright and making its way, unsteady, knock-kneed, towards the udder while the other followed resolutely on its knees.
    The shepherd, his purpled, weather-roughened face almost hidden by the heavy coat which muffled him to his ears, gave a slow chuckle. 'How the 'ell do they know?'
    He had seen it happen thousands of times and he still wondered. So do I.
    And another memory of two hundred lambs in a barn on a warm afternoon. We were inoculating them against pulpy kidney and there was no conversation because of the high pitched protests of the lambs and the unremitting deep baa-ing from nearly a hundred ewes milling anxiously around outside. I couldn't conceive how these ewes could ever get their own families sorted out from that mass of almost identical little creatures. It would take hours.
    It took about twenty-five seconds. When we had finished injecting we opened the barn doors and the outpouring lambs were met by a concerted rush of distraught mothers. At first the noise was deafening but it died away rapidly to an occational bleat as the last stray was rounded up. Then, neatly paired off, the flock headed calmly for the field.


The important reason why those who are mother and child stick together, lies in their feelings for each other developed through evolution, feelings which result in the young having the overwhelmingly best chances of being taken good care of when the carers are their own parents, cf part 7. The Explanation in
Child abuse which the child protection authorities do not want to know about - 2: Violence against step-children compared to genetic children – Daly & Wilson's research

Attachment, then – children and their own parents belonging together – is not unimportant. It does not spring from being together, it is there on the basis of biology. But there is great variation between animal species in how this bond – the attachment – is confirmed, consolidated, strengthened.

In order to answer the question "What is a father?", therefore, one could start off by altering the question a little, into: "What is the importance of being the children's own father and mother?" A possible answer might be: It is important to
be there, be close to the children, be available, so that the children's instinctive feelings are fulfilled: their tendency to seek particularly these adults, their own parents, for food, communication, answers to questions, a feeling of peace and safety, refuge when they feel threatened, uncertain, unhappy in situation and environment. This natural attachment is there, parents do not need to learn from 'child expert professionals' how to create it by such and such interaction – professionals who instead obstruct the natural unfolding of it. The attachment between family members needs to be left to exist in peace.

Attachment theory in the form that reigns today must be considered pure aberration, misguided and gone astray. It is not even practiced in a logical and coherent way by the psycho-babble milieus in child protection professions who swear by it. They take children forcibly away from parents they claim the child "is not attached to", but hold that the child is so irrevocably "attached" to fosterers the child has been with for a year or so. – Well, our nations get the "science", the "child experts" and the political decision makers we deserve.


Is biological kinship irrelevant for the life of human beings?

in Part 4. Family versus other constellations:

The above argument gives an evolutionary-genetic explanation of why it is that parents feel they must have their children with them, close to, and why children feel they must be with their own parents and seek to be near them when the world outside is uncertain, threatening, painful or difficult. Nor do I know of any other reasonable explanation of this behaviour in the research literature. If children and parents did not by instinct seek each other and stick together, the parents could not give care and protection in the practical situations where it is needed and the children could not receive it. The children would then be far more exposed to the dangers of this world. Giving priority to family solidarity as a matter of course is therefore perfectly rational behaviour and contributes, from an evolutionary perspective, to the fitness of the family line.

in Part 6. The spirit of our age:

The value of nature-given bonds, then, is under pressure from socio-psychological groups making a living from constructing "families" for children and all sorts of "activities" to "further their development" and create "relations" between the children and everyone else in these artificial groups. And one should not forget: They make a living by constructing bizarre explanations of why all the socio-psychological "work" they do with children does not function as their theories predict. It is a good thing – and high time – that families begin to raise their voices against these "child expert" cadres and their failed speculations and philosophies. People who understand what the importance is, for children and through them for society, of the family as a unit with a natural basis which supports and aids it through difficulties, will surely gain in knowledge and understanding by and by and make their voices heard more strongly. Hopefully, that will put a stop to the billions spent on ever more quasi-research about the importance of the "milieu" and children's "attachment", and even more billions spent on "working" with children whom the milieu-determinist enthusiasts have robbed of their own families.


From Child abuse which the child protection authorities do not want to know about - 2: Violence against step-children compared to genetic children – Daly & Wilson's research

in Part 8. Daly and Wilson versus representatives of social discipline:

One of the results of social-determinstic thinking is a popular dogma in social work of our times: that the family is a so-called social construction – an arbitrary joining together of just any individuals, with no natural basis for the fact that parents and their own children are ordinarily the ones who stick together in a family. Those who believe in this dogma, will as a corollary have it that family life is activity in which the participants play social roles; one
is not mother, father or child, one acts in one of these roles (1996 p 80; 1998 pp 56-58). The ideology preaches that genetic relatedness is without importance. (A variant of the "role" theory also claims that belonging to one of the sexes is a matter of role-play which is induced socially and can easily be changed. This view seems to consider genetially and hormonally deviant individuals as proof, and extreme action taken on such a basis has not been without resulting tragedy, cf articles about Dr John Money (e.g Wikipedia 2012).) So-called "attachment theory" is an implementation of the same popular speculations of social-deterministic type.


From The Child Protection Service (CPS) – unfortunately the cause of grievous harm
Part 2: Content, dimensions, causes and mechanisms of CPS activities

in section Attachment theory and other ideas:

Attachment theory, freudianism and a lot of other speculative thoughts in CPS circles are naïve, primitive behaviorism, a deterministic and mechanistic belief in the sole importance of the environment. Practitioners carrying out these ideas are not aware of this and do not know of the criticism which such beliefs in the social sciences have long since been met with. Being child and parent is not socially constructed role-play. The correlation between illness, criminal record, general asociality on the one hand, and having been taken away from one's own parents on the other, is striking and shows in all studies of such phenomena (26). The sufferings and the behaviour and actions of parents and children if they are forced apart show clearly that attachment theory is a cul-de-sac. It cannot explain why both adopteds and foster children in large numbers intensely seek to go back to their own families. It is obviously not enough to 'know about one's roots', one wants to live near them, have contact and dialogue with them. The instinct of belonging together has evolved through evolution and manifests itself through very deep feelings and reactions. While pair relationships - the closest relationship we know of between unrelated people - are dissolved in large numbers and need strong sanctions and concrete, common interest to last, cases of relationships parent-child in which these part company with an equal degree of enmity or indifference towards each other are so rare as to be practically non-existent in comparison. Child protection workers, caught in their own belief in the importance of the environment, the milieu, are blind towards the importance of growing up in one's own biological milieu.


When children of minorities are deprived of their parents

Terrible case of CPS 'care' in Britain leading to
the death of a handicapped child in foster 'care'

The Malaysian children held in Sweden need their own family

On foster children

Foster-children as lucrative business

Starting to babble about social workers' love

Judgment in Poland: a nine-year-old girl
NOT to be extradited to Norway

Polanski on the separation and abuse during the war

Canadian documentary about child protection

The elephant. Someone who has been torn from its roots –
and is sick with longing