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January 26, 2023 54 mins
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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you should know a production of I
Heart Radio. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh
and there in the past or the future, I can't tell.
It's Chuck and Jerry's here hanging out on the ether.
And that makes this stuff you should know hanging out

in the ether. She's ethereal she's actually on ether too,
to really complete the whole circle. Oh boy, I wish
I was so um Chuck, surely you've heard of attachment
theory before. It's so fully ingrained into pop culture that
I would be really surprised if there are many of
our listeners out there who aren't at least passingly familiar

with it. Yeah. I had heard of it, and it's um.
You know. I think this is a very instructive episode
for brand new parents because even if you think you
kind of know something about it, I learned a lot. Uh,
it's you light now because you know, my daughter's seven
and a half, so we already screwed up, right. But

if you're just starting out with the baby, like, start early,
because whatever you do makes a big impact on their
adult life. Even Yeah, I think that's one of the
things that makes this so interesting, is like you've got
a really narrow window to not screw up your kid,
and it's it's you. It's on you, like you, the

primary caregiver, are responsible for your kids or not, so,
says attachment theory. A lot of people question that. A
lot of people say humans are way too complex, there's
way too many genetic and environmental and social forces working
on the individual to shape them. Or but there there
does seem to be like a lot of validity to
attachment theory, even if it isn't like the thing that

forms our personality. Yeah, and I think it's one of
those cool things that like, uh and you know, we're
going to talk about the history of it, but it
seems like kind of almost right away when we started
figuring out that there was attachment, there were some people,
even though it's gotten way more popular over the years,
to sort of look into this stuff, some people kind

of really early on, we're like, all right, well, why
like let's try and figure this thing out. Yeah, because attachment, um,
we should define it. It's basically a bond, an affinity
for that an infant has for their caregiver in vice
versa typically um and it is seems to be universal
that bond, that attachment between baby and caregiver around the world.

It just seems to be a human thing. Uh. It
also seems to show up in the animal kingdom, especially
among other mammals and primates. Um, it is a thing.
And like you said, people are like, but why, And
they started asking why after Darwin came along. So the
framework that everybody was looking at this through was evolution
natural selection. And the first kind of dominant explanation for

the whole thing, which we'll get into a little more later,
was behaviorism. And the upshot of behaviorism as it was
as it applies to um, that bond that forms between
baby and caregiver, Um is that the baby wants to
be fed, and the caregiver feeds the baby. Ergo, the
baby feels good about the caregiver. Yeah, and who cares

about your emotions? Yeah, we can't study those anyways. Was
kind of the prevailing theory. Yeah, that's exactly right. But
then along comes a guy and a lady and another
guy riding in on their ponies. It was strangely enough.

Uh No, it was a guy named John Bowlby. Uh.
There was a woman named Mary Ainsworth, and then there
was another guy. Uh, named William Blatts will show up
later and like we'll talk about them a little more
in a second. But Bowlby basically was among a small
handful of people who said that whole behaviorist um explanation
doesn't hold up because you can feed a baby and

the baby will still be crying, the baby will still
want the caregiver um, and sometimes a caregiver can sue
the baby without any food. So I don't think it's
just food that thereafter. I think it's something more, um, intangible,
but just as important as food. Yeah, like if your
baby scared, it's yeah, it's not all just about that.

You know that milk that you're getting, and you know
that stuff is important. Like we talked about in the
breastfeeding episode. Uh, you know, we covered you know, those
kinds of bonds and attachments that can happen from mother
to baby, but we also talked about the fact that
that's not you know, the end all be all, necessarily right. No, Yeah,

definitely milk is important. Food is important, but they're not
breastfeeding bond. Sure, oh the bond, sure, I get to yeah,
but the so, yeah, that bond in and of its
self is what Bowlby and attachment theory says, is the
important part of the bond. It's the bond. It bond.
The bond isn't like some um you know, byproduct of

that need for food and satisfying of the need for food.
It is the thing that the kid wants and that
the caregiver gives to the kid a bond, a connection,
a social connection with another human being that that cares
for that little little baby. Um. And that's it almost
sounds like on the surface like well, wait, what's the

big difference. The differences is the purpose of the bond
is emotional, and behaviorism says the purpose of the bond
is strictly to manipulate the person to get food. Right,
So there is an enormous amount of difference. And they
came up at around the same time, and it turned
out that attachment theory basically completely supplanted behaviorism, as we'll see. Yeah,

I think what's interesting is that, uh, at least in
our case, Like right when my daughter was born, she
comes out, they're like get in there in that other
room and take your shirt off, like mom and dad,
and like start putting that skin on skin. They call
it skin on skin. Yeah, and that skin on skin contact,
they say, is just you know, do it as much

as you can, as often as you can, uh, from
from the get go, which I guess is part of
attachment theory, even though that's a physical bond. I don't know,
I really don't know. It didn't come up, so I
it's got to have something to do with it. But
I didn't see anything like where that skin on skin

contact is an important part of attachment. Yeah, I'm kind
of curious. I'm meant to look into that. But it's
one thing that that's it's a big deal now, you know,
whereas in the old days they were like, you know,
dad's down the street, you know, in a bar, and
eventually you'll meet your child. Yeah, exactly. And that also
explains I realized now why you started wearing wide mesh

crop top shirts all the time. Just that skin on
skin context. Skin to win is our motto. So the
upshot of attachment theories, that's everybody that you're a primary
caregiver and if you make yourself available, if you're responsive
to an infant's needs to be soothed when they're scared,

to be fed when they're hungry, to be hut like cuddled,
that give them that skin on skin contact. Then the
infant learns that they can depend on that, and that
gives them a sense of security that in a few
years they can use to go explore the rest of
the world knowing they have a safe home base. That's

attachment theory, and that's not If you don't do that exactly,
then it has all sorts of other effects that make
the kid not secure from that that time on. Yeah,
and you know, a lot of this may seem like
uh no dub type of stuff now because we're way
more um just sort of in tune with that kind
of thing now, in a little more touchy feeling now,

So it seems very obvious I think these days. But
as you'll see, and a lot of this has to
do with how you react, um like when the child
may be upset. It wasn't always that way. I mean,
we'll you know, we'll touch on it later, but there
up until semi recently, there were times where it was like, no,
if your child is upset, you know, uh, try and

get them to not be upset in any way you can.
Maybe that's a punishment, maybe you ignore it. And that
was sort of the way, and it's just it's crazy
to think about such an obvious thing as like, no,
you should provide comfort to an upset kid first and
foremost and kind of work out from there. Uh, you know,
because I'm not saying there's no like behavioral things you

need to address, but uh, it's just really interesting that
it took that long to arrive what to me. What
to me is like a really kind of obvious thing. Yeah.
I wonder though, if this is where we finally progress too,
or if behaviorism was a diversion from stuff we've been
doing before, which probably for a strong resemblance to attachment theory,

you know, yeah, like Tuktok may have been a better
parent than dad in the nineteen forties. Yeah, and Bob
Dobbs or something. Yeah, exactly. So, um, let's talk about
the people who who literally changed the world because you
really put your finger on something, something sticky and smelly
when you said that, Um, it just seems like no, duh, now,

like that is how thoroughly it has completely permeated Western society. Um.
And and you can point to John Bowlby and Mary
Ainsworth is two people who changed the world by by
getting attachment theory across and showing like this actually has
real legs. Yeah. So Bowlby was a brit Uh. He
was a psychiatrist and he was raised he you know,

it's pretty clear that he probably had um some kind
of money growing up because he was ra is by
a host of nanny's uh in England. And uh, it
seems like when he got older he was very much
into exploring what that meant to him, because he I
guess had a memory or at least maybe uncovered some

trauma from when he had his main nanny uh split
for another job when he was really young. And when
you're a little kid, like if if that's your scene
growing up, that main nanny, that's like your caregiver. And
so it would I would guess be a kin to
like mom leaving or something like that. Uh. And this
was in like the what like nineteen thirties. So he

started exploring that, which was a very I think, kind
of forward introspective kind of thing to be thinking about
back then. Uh, it doesn't seem like the kind of
thing that was innate back then, but he started thinking
about his own life and that really informed his his
research or his interest in researching it. Yeah, and it
makes you wonder if that nanny hadn't left and inspired

him to kind of look into the damage that it did.
I mean, would we even have attachment theory. It's a
it's a big question. May have just had a tougher
time because they really it seems worked great in tandem together, right,
So um bowlby Uh, he started investigating juvenile delinquents. Um.
That was where he started to kind of look for like,

if you want to prove a point, go find the
extremes and then investigate that, and it's the easiest way
to uncover the mechanations of things. So we started looking
at juvenile delinquents and basically was like, it's the kids
home life that that makes them a delinquent. It's nothing else,
Like you can take poverty away, you can take um,
you know, rule out all these other factors, and if

the home life is stable and supportive, the kids probably
not going to be a juvenile delinquent. If it's not,
there's a chance the kid will be a juvenile delinquent.
So out of the gate, he's already contributing to siety
through his research and his theories. Yeah, and I thought
it was interesting and that he wasn't necessarily just saying like,
good parent, bad parent. He worked at the London Child

Guidance Clinic and he was looking and in fact wrote
a letter to the British Medical Journal talking about just
family separations because of jobs, uh and chiefly world War two.
World War two comes along right when he's sort of
getting into this, and families all of a sudden are
split up, and he hit on a key thing, which
is like, hey, that's that's no good to have a

parent taken away from a child at an early age.
And I don't think he was saying, like, you know,
we shouldn't send soldiers to war because uh, their kids
are going to be delinquents later, but he was saying
this might happen as a result of that. Yeah, and
even more than just you know, father's going off to war,
like like children were removed from their parents to get
them to safer places out in the countryside. Um, if

you've ever seen The Lady in Black two, the horror
movie that's kind of the premise of it, have yeah
a few times. All these little kids are like removed
from London where it's very dangerous, but their parents need
to stay behind and contribute to the to the war
if art working in the factories and yeah, so yeah,
of course it's going to have that effect. So he's
telling everybody this like, this might not be the best idea,

even though the intentions are great. Sorry. And then he
moves into the juvenile delinquents. He he had a paper
called forty four Juvenile Thieves Their Character and Home Life,
And that's when he was like, it's the home life
that's that's the problem. Yeah. He took kind of a
big swing here because he went all, you know, all
the way out on a limb to say like, hey,

your kid maybe like a criminal later in life. Uh.
And they may be using you know, like stealing material things,
maybe a literal substitute or I guess in a little
substitute there, I go, a figurative substitute for the fact
that they didn't get the love they needed as a kid. Uh.
And I think, you know, he I don't think he

talked about in this paper. But of course later that
could be drug addiction or any sort of bad road
you go down. Yeah, And so he followed that up.
The World Health Organization, right when the u N starts
to be form, basically hired him in nineteen fifty to
work on the mental health of homeless children. It is amazing.

This guy was a pretty amazing dude, just based on
his research right doing this back then, you know, right right,
especially when the dominant view was no, these are all
little robots, this stuff doesn't matter at all, and he's saying, no,
this actually matters a lot. And he came out with
a book called Childcare and the Growth of Love. It
was basically bait. I know, it's a great title, but

it was based on the work and the research that
he did for the World Health Organization. But he he
very wisely, I get the impression, wrote it for a
popular audience and that helped the whole theory gain traction,
and the theory he was these juvenile delinquents I've been
investigating um that had a bad home life. Well I
went and figured out where the whole thing starts, and

it starts really early on in infancy, and that it's
all about nurturing the child that leads to proper development,
and that if you don't nurture the child properly, they're
going to be psychologically damaged humans for the rest of
their lives. So let's start figuring out how to nurture
them properly. Yeah, and I think you kind of hit
on it. The key here was it wasn't a scientific paper.

This was like, hey, people in the public sphere, let's
read this book. Yeah. I think that's a good time
for a break. I feel like we could just keep
going and just say forget the ads. Sure, let's make
it a Christmas special, but maybe we should take a
break and then introduce Mary Ainsworth in earnest after that. Huh, agreed? Okay, Chuck,

So we're back in It's high time that Mary Ainsworth
wrote in on her Palomino and that's a great great
reference there. Um, we should say Ed helped us out
with this one. And he made a little aside somewhere
in this article. I can't remember quite where, but he
wanted to point out that he started looking into Mary
Ainsworth and expected to find that she was just kind

of like the woman working behind the scenes who never
really got credit until long after her death. And he
said he was very pleasantly surprised to find that Nope,
she was viewed as a collaborator of Bowlby's, that they
came up with this together, and she was very much
lauded within her lifetime like she was she was seen
and respected for her work at it, like during the

fifties basically, So that's a big deal. I think it's
worth mentioning off the bat, absolutely because I feel like
we've come up with so many of these stories through
the years in research terms, where like the man stamps
his name on it and it's like thanks, thanks for
the help Mary, exactly, Now go give me some coffee.
Yeah exactly. No, that isn't what happened. So Mary Ainsworth

moves to London. I don't know she did it to
specifically work with Bowlby or not, but she ended up
working with him pretty quickly, and she brought with her
a theory that had been worked out by someone else
she'd worked with. I think he was a bit of
a mentor to her. His name was William E. Blatts,
and Blats came up with something called security theory, which

basically says that if if a kid has security early
in life that they can trust in their their caregiver,
then they have a foundation for exploration later on in life.
And as Ed puts it, it seems like it was
a bit of a beta version of attachment theory. It's
kind of like attachment theory without the explanation of why
or how. Yeah, And it turns out that Mary Ainsworth

was really good at UM helping to find out the
why because she knew, like, hey, we can sit around
and have high tea and theorize all day over here
in England. And she said, it's very nice. I enjoy
the high tea. It's one of the reasons I moved.
Those cucumber sandwiches are dealish, Yeah, finky thinky sandwiches are lovely,
But like, we need to do, like we need to

try and prove this stuff and do experimentation. And one
of the experiments, uh, they ended up working together at
Johns Hopkins University, and she developed a very famous experiment called,
uh Strange, the Strange Situation Capitalist capitals, And it sounds

kind of mean, but it's not as mean as it
got and you'll find out, you know, later on that uh,
this other character comes in that was kind of a
human monster with his experiments. But the strange situation was
basically a situation where you had a a kid and
their caregiver in a room for twenty one minutes, and

over those twenty one minutes, there would be a series
of comings and goings of the caregiver and a stranger
so like, and there was some overlap here and there,
so that the caregiver would be there and then a
stranger would enter. And then every time one of them
would leave, that was labeled as a conspicuous exit. Whatever
that means, I am leaving, I guess so. But and

it wasn't like the stranger would come in and just
sit there with crossed arms like they It says that
the stranger would be like geared towards the child's activities
or whatever. So I would like to see it in action,
to see what they actually did. But um, it was
just a series of comings and goings with the goal
to basically kind of see what, you know, how the

child reacts in what to their mind might look feel
like a crisis, and how strongly they respond to everybody,
to the caregiver leaving, to the stranger coming in, to
perhaps bonding some with the stranger or not, then the
stranger leaving, and then if you're mad when the caregiver
comes back because they left, or if you were just

super relieved. So there's like all kinds of things you
can unpack with the capitals, capitals, strange situation, right, But
what she found is that there's really just a few
buckets that you can put these responses in, which is
really something that means you're onto something when you're like, wow,
this is crazy. These kids are acting or responding within

one of three or four ways. And um even more
important or just as important, I should say, she also
did some field work in Uganda, UM studying like infant
caregiver bonding, and um found that like, these kids respond
in the same way as American kids do, UM in

these same four buckets. So she was definitely onto something
for sure. Yeah, and that kind of work game super
important as far as uh, you know, because it wasn't
just like let's just uh explored that what's happening with
these American babies, like if they wanted to find out
if it was a cross cultural and then eventually drilling

down even more to like socio economic and stuff like that.
So all just super valuable stuff for sure. So UM,
it's like you said, Bowlby came up with the theories,
and Ainsworth figured out how to how to explain why
those theories did a pretty good job of explaining bonding
and attachment right. Um, So just to kind of like

get a little further into behaviorism and what they were
up against by by coming up with this completely radical
new idea of what makes a good human being. Um,
they were up against behaviorism. And one of the most
famous behaviorists was BF Skinner, And what B. F. Skinner
was working on was operant conditioning, which is you take

a behavior and you pair it with a consequence. It
can be a reward, it can be a punished meant.
But depending on whether you want to encourage that behavior
or discourage that behavior, you punish it or you reward it. Right,
And that means that that behavior then is learned. That's
the basis of behavioralism. That it's that these behaviors are
learned traits. Uh. And that's not at all what Bulby

and Ainsworth were finding. They came to realize or believe that, um,
that bonding and attachment was an innate trait, not a
learned trait. Right. So, like if you have affection towards someone,
it's not there because you need it, but it is
just a stimulus basically to further the caregiving. That's the

behaviorist viewpoint. Yeah, and you know, Skinner in a skinner Box,
which I feel like we've talked to that about that
a bunch of times for sure. But the so like
these guys were saying like they they turned this behavioristum
explanation for bonding um into like child rearing practices and
like wrote book and basically said like, if your baby

is crying and you pick that baby up and soThe that,
you have just reinforced crying behavior and they're going to
cry for the rest of their life. So you should
probably never approach a crying baby, just ignore them. Basically, Yeah,
they almost treated it as if you were like, uh,
that that was equivalent to a child having a tantrum later,

you know, and this is just it's not the same thing.
There is a behavior's named John B. Watson. I think
we've spoken about him before to his name is very familiar,
but he wrote a parenting book and um a couple
of excerpts from it are as follows. He said that
you should never hug or kiss your kid or let
them sit on your lap. Get this, you should shake

hands with them in the morning. Well I agree with
that parton if they if they've done an extraordinary good
job at some difficult task, then maybe you can give
them a pat on the head and then if you
must must, then you can kiss them once on the
forehead when they say good night. This was like the

the the interaction that they said, if you do this
with your kid, you're gonna produce a good kid, not
a um a social deviant monster who And frankly, this
fully explains the boomer generation because this is about the
time that these kids are being born and raised. Yeah,
when was his uh when was Watson around the fifties?

This is Yeah, I'd be curious to find out what
his h if he had children, how that went. They're
still like trembling. I'm guessing they just want that pat
on the head when they meet somebody. But I mean
imagine that people were like, yeah, that's a great idea.
I can shake hands with my kid in the morning,
and they're gonna turn out to be aces. They're going
to be the toast when they get older. Yeah. No

good uh yeah nice nice ref that almost slipped by me. Um.
Should we talk about the three sort of buckets, which
basically clear the three attachment styles? I think we should
all right, Well, the first one is uh, well that
it turned out that there were four, but um, thankfully,
the fourth is is a very small percentage of infants

are exposed to this kind of attachment. But the first
is secure and that means you know, you're you're doing
great as apparent. That means you're nurturing and you respond.
And again a lot of this is what to do
when your kid is upset. You're responding with um support
and by calming them and by nurturing them rather than

you know, doing the Watson method. And again, in turn,
I know it sounds like we're beating a dead horse,
but that will make the child feel secure. They're gonna
feel supported. Uh, They're gonna feel like they're able to
express negative emotions. And I think that is a semi
modern thing. Is is like negative feelings are okay, Like

you're not supposed to get your child to quit crying.
You're supposed to say, cry it out, feel those feelings
and let's like talk about them, um, and then shake
hands afterwards, shake hands. They well done. Here's a cucumber sandwich. Uh.
And this is called and organized and they're sort of
uh further um described as organized or disorganized. This one

is organized. And I think what which is a pretty
good number of infants apparently are are brought up and
nurtured in this way, right. And also to circle it back,
Mary Ainsworth is the one who's like, Okay, there's a
lot of kids kids who respond in this way, right.

And what she's finding is that in that strange situation test,
the secure children will be distressed when their parents leaves
and then will be relieved when the parent comes back.
They will go to the parent for comfort, and then
the parent finds it very easy to calm the child down,
comfort them, and then the child goes back to playing
with the toys like nothing ever happened. It all just

rolled off their back. That that is the that forms
that secure attachment, right. Um. And like you said, it's
organized because the kid knows that they can go to
the parent, the parents canna reassure them, and then it's
going to be all good. Yeah, there's like a structure
there that even an infant can understand. It's so basic exactly. Um.
The next one that she found, I think covers about

of infants. It's avoidant and this one is where the
caregiver just doesn't really give the kid what they need.
And we're talking infants here, right, doesn't like the the
the infant is in distress, and the caregiver might just
like ignore them, They might get annoyed with them. They
might kind of mock the kids distress and like little babelo,

what's will that will baby? Or you upset kind of thing,
which I mean, I can't imagine how many times I've
heard that in my life, like in movies, are on TV,
and probably even in real life. And when you step
back and realize that you're mocking an infant and you're
screwing them up as you do it, well, here's how
you screw them up right, and um, in the actual
strange situation, Um, the kid is totally normal that you

can't really distinguish them from the secure kids until the
caregiver leaves and the secure kids member they became distressed.
The avoidant kids they're actually like, I'm I'm all good,
I'm just gonna keep playing with these Lincoln logs, right,
although I think it's a little old for infants, but regardless,
And then when the caregiver comes back, they either ignore

the caregiver or may actually like go away from the
caregiver because what they've learned is that their emotions upset
the caregiver. So they have to manage their own emotions
and they have to hide them. And that is what
the you learn as an infant if you have an
avoidant attachment. Yeah, like this, this behavior drives my caregiver
away from me, so I have to go into my

room to be upset or something. It's sort of just
occurring to me reading all this. That how much the
story of Popeye the Sailor Man, because to play Popeye
when he was an infinct then Peppy wasn't around. Uh,
there was a lot of like they had a lot
of unpacking to do. He and Pappy, I don't remember that.

I just remember him beating people up. Yeah. Pappy was
Popeye's dad, and he didn't get the love he needed
when he was an infink. Uh. And so that's probably
why he was violent huh later in life. Yeah, I
mean that makes sense. Although if he had been disorganized,
it would have made more sense that he was violent. Uh,

it was Popeye organized, I guess, I don't know. I
mean I would say he's probably disorganized, had a disorganized
attachment because that's the one that's associated with violence. Yeah.
I think Pappy was cold. So if Pappy was cold,
he probably would have developed avoidance, right yeah, if Pappy

was um uh inconsistent, Where Pappy was sometimes like oh
it's okay, you know, and reassured little infant Popeye and
then other times ignored infant Popeye. Infant Popeye would learn
that there was no real way to depend on Pappy
and no real way to predict when Pappy was going

to respond to Popeye's needs. Right yeah. This inconsistency, this
is called the resistant bucket. It almost seems that it
does as much damage as uh as the other one.
It's like, yeah, yeah, I mean there, I mean this
is something I've learned as apparent that like structure, like

kids really really count on that, even though they don't
know that they count on that because they don't understand
it at that point. But like disrupting uh schedule and
disrupting a structure UH is very um like it shouldn't
be taken lightly, as apparent, even small things. And Emily
and I find ourselves all the time still just being like,

oh god, you know, we didn't really think about like um,
coming back from them by vacation or or just launching
back into school like we're parents. We can or adults,
we can kind of zig and zag with life, but
you can't always count on a kid to be able
to do that. Uh. And I think that's sort of
um in a way, that that sort of inconsistency playing out,

you know as a kid gets older. Right, Yeah, no, totally.
And like in this strange situation UM experiment, these kids
were distressed even before the parent left, They were distressed
while the parent was gone, and then when the parent
came back, they might be angry to the parent, they
might be um clingy to the parent. And I saw

this explained as these kids develop a preoccupation with their attachment.
They're they're not sure when their their caretakers going to
respond to him, so they can't focus on anything else
but whether or not their caretaker is going to respond
to them. And they by being clingy there like trying
to force the caregiver to respond. They may cry louder
than other kids because they're trying to force the caregiver

to respond. And that's the ambivalent or resistant attachment style.
And yeah, it is. It is a sad way to
screw up a kid. It seems like, Yeah, the final one,
which is the smallest bucket is the only one that's
labeled is disorganized. Even though resistant is pretty chaotic, it's
still organized, like you said, but this is And a

lot of times they point out that the caregiver in
the disorganized case is UM may have a trauma that
they suffered. This is sort of like that cycle that
repeats itself. Or they may have like some mental health
issue or something and are not UM maybe not able
to like concentrate on the needs of the kids so

or at least consistently. So it's also inconsistent, just like
resistant is. But this feels like inconsistent plus right right,
It's it's like, um, you may intimidate the kid to
up crying. You may yell at the kid to stop crying.
I get the impression with an ambivalent resistant kid, the
caretakers not yelling at you, are trying to intimidate you.

They're just not responding. In some cases this is like
really mean stuff. Or they might be inconsistent in that
there they choose to soothe, but they're doing it without
any real emotion. They're like, oh, it's okay, you're gonna
be fine. It's the right kind of thing. And so
that kids not getting any right, and they're not getting support.

But not only that, their caregiver, the one person who's
supposed to be the source of stability in the entire
universe for that kid, is a source of fear. And
so in the strange situation experiment, kids who had disorganized attachment,
they might go to the stranger just as as frequently

as they might go to their parents. When they came back,
they might run from their parents. They might freeze and
not know which person to go to. They might be
confused because their caregiver is a source of fear and
they but they still have that need, they just don't
know where to get it. It's extremely sad um and
it is the kind that seems to really lead to
serious problems UM early in life and then on into adulthood.

You ever do that thing, uh, you know, you me
ever do that thing where you put Momo in the
middle of you and you stand for apart and you
both start calling her. Yeah, I don't think either one
of us could bear to know that we weren't the one.
But I know pretty well that she would go to human.
She wouldn't be happy about it, but she would go
to UM. That's sad Um, I don't know why people
would do that, but I've seen that done on the internet.

Probably is a joke, Like, surely no one would do
that and put any like stock in it. Speaking of
a joke, you showed me this. There was this meme recently. Um,
although this comes out in a couple of weeks, so
this meme will probably be ancient by then. But there's
a trend I think on TikTok where kids, um fake

re being the news that their parents favorite celebrity has died,
and then they they tape it and like, oh man,
I can understand being upset about it because it's just
like really emotionally abusive. But at the same time, if
you watch like a highlight reel of some of the
some of the more pronounced responses, it's it's tough not

to crack up. I haven't seen any of them. I
just solved that some celebrities are like pretty ticked off
about it. Why would the celebrities be ticked off? I
don't know our celebrities ever ticked off. I don't know
celebrities who needs them. Remember that point at the very
beginning of the pandemic where we almost got rid of celebrities.
Do you remember when everybody was so sick of celebrities?

There was that whole gal Goodo screwed up about singing.
Imagine Madonna in the bath with Rose Pedal talking about
how everybody's equal and everybody was just kind of sick
and tired of celebrities right then, and it seemed like
we were gonna shed our our fascination with them. It
just didn't pan out. Good luck. Yeah, right, all right,
we should probably take our second break, uh, and then

we'll talk about you know, we mentioned testing these theories,
and there's more to it than just the capital est
capitalist strange situation. So we'll be back right after this
to talk about testing. All right. When it comes to

testing these kind of a lot of psychological testing, but
especially this, it's pretty tough because in order to get
like a robust test, we've talked about it over and over,
you need to be able to repeat stuff. You need
to be able to have large sample sizes. Uh, and
it's really tough in this case because, uh, it's hard

to get you know, when you're studying humans like this,
and especially this kind of thing where you study infinite attachment,
and then you want to know what they're like later
in life. This is really long drawn out studies over
years and years, even decades, and it's hard to get
like a large sample size. So right out of the gate,
your longevity is hampered, your sample size is hampered. And

then the other big knock is it's really impossible to
not uh think about the variables that might come up
that would also influence uh the outcomes, which in this case,
it's like it's almost an infinite list of variables that
could affect uh, these kinds of studies. Yeah, like are

you going to screen the study participants for um, you know,
genetic traits that you are going to try to control
for or whether there's lead paint in their home. Um.
There's just so much stuff, And it also is based
on how complex humans are, how many influences we have.
But the upshot of it is is that attachment theory

has been the dominant explanation for UM, how little baby
personalities are formed, uh and how we kind of view
the world from that point on UM for sixty years now.
And one of the reasons why is because it holds up.
There's a lot of criticisms of it. It's not perfect,
it's not complete, but the gist of it generally holds up. Yeah.

And you know, we mentioned mary An's worth doing work
in Uganda and UH studying like kind of cross cultural
UH lengths and ties, and they did find that it
is basically cross cultural UH and as we'll see even
within like different animal species as well. But UH, children
basically of all cultures do exhibit these attachment theory behaviors.

But there were some differences, and I think what the
main ones they found, doubt was that their proportions of
the attachment styles were different depending on the culture, although
they also said that I think they found out later
that UM, socio economic differences even outweighed cultural differences, right. Yeah,
and I also saw that UM, typically peers are thought

to influence the development of a person's personality way more
than any other factors. UM. But that's not to say
that your attachment doesn't have influences on on the rest
of your life, right. UM. The thing that they found, though,
one of the things that makes the strange situation tests
difficult is that, yes, the responses among infants are universal

and fit into those four buckets, but the way that
that caregivers soothe infants is is culturally constructed. It's not
the same around cultures. So if you're conducting this test
in the Czech Republic, you have to figure out how
the people in the Czech Republic soothe their kids and
then quantify the results based on those different ways of

sooth their kids or not. Yeah, Czech Republic. Huh sure.
That first thing that came to mind it was I'd
like to go to Prague. I try to go to
Prague in my backpacking adventure years ago. But our europass,
our your rail pass did not cover Prague. Weird at

the time. I think it probably does now, but this was, uh,
you know, this is in the mid early to mid nineties,
so anyway, I didn't go to Prague. Okay, should we
talk about the monster. Yeah, a guy named Harry Harlow.
We've talked about him before, sure, I know we have.
We definitely have it think in a video in a

video explainer. But his bastards of science rookie card is
worth a lot of money and he is a total bastard.
If there's a hell, this guy's in it, there's just
no way, shape or form around it. Because his experiments
seemed to have gone well beyond the realm of science
and into just torture. Yeah. So what he did was

worked with monkeys. Uh. And one of the main things
he did as far as attachment theory go, is he
got to this one experiment he would get to artificial
surrogate monkey mommy's there was one that was covered in cloth,
and there was one that was just made of like
chicken wire, and they were both warned by a light bulb.
But again, one is cloth, one is chicken wire. And

he would uh, well, he found out that infant monkeys
would bond with the cloth mother, no surprise. But if
you started having the wire only mother provide milk, infants
would go to feed with the wire uh monkey mama,
and then cuddle with the cloth monkey mama. Uh. And

you you know, you hear that, and you think, like,
all right, that that doesn't sound like the worst thing
in the world. But what he started doing it just
it seems like he got increasingly more disturbing. Uh. He
would raise infant monkeys in isolation, uh some times parcels,
sometimes complete isolation. Uh. This would you know, basically cause

mental illness in these monkeys as they grew older. He
would uh some of these monkeys were so messed up
that they couldn't do things like mate later in life,
and he wanted to to test like intergenerationality of these effects.
So what would the messed up monkeys little monkey kids
be like? But these monkeys were so messed up the

females they couldn't mate. So he invented a contraption which basically, uh,
required that the female monkey mate. And I guess that's
as deep as we need to go. Yeah. Um. He
also had something that he liked to call the Pit
of Despair, which was an inverted pyramid. It produced total

isolation um, and that the monkeys that were inserted into
the Pit of Despair were introduced to it starting at
three weeks old. And so like, I mean, we know
now what solitary confinement can do on an adult human
after a very short time. Imagine being raised from three
weeks old in solitary confinement your entire life and it
just breaks you mentally, it breaks your spirit, it breaks

everything about you. And again, yes, this guy showed with
the wire monkey experiment that behaviorism was wrong, that they
weren't just after food. They needed a bond, They needed
an affection, and that need is so strong they would
actually bond with a cloth covered wire monkey. That's where
his experiment should have stopped, because beyond that, he's not

really contributing much to it, aside from showing that you
can really break monkeys by isolating them from a very
early age. And even one of his students said later
on that it was clear to many people the work
was really violating ordinary sensibilities that anybody with respect for life,
for people would find this offensive, and he was absolutely
right about that. Absolutely. Um. One of the kind of

cool things now that we have learned because of attachment
theory is again like it gave a real blueprint for
how to parent from day one. And uh, you know,
behaviorism was the dominant theory before this came along, and
it was really just a see change and how we
saw child rearing and you know, thank goodness they came along.

I guess we should talk a little bit about James Robertson, right. Yeah,
I think it's great because this was in terms he
you know, it's like this is all great and like
as far as like how to parent better and stuff
like that, but this was also a time when you know,
hospital visitation of course, you know, pre COVID. You know,
things are all messed up now because people it was

kind of brought back to this place where you couldn't,
you know, sort of be with your kid in the
hospital if they were sick a lot of times because
visitation rules and rites just weren't the same back then. So, uh,
James Robertson comes around. He worked with Bulby in the
fifties and he started noticing like, hey, this is really
messed up that you'll send a a very young child

to the hospital and basically tell the parents to wait
at the door, and it's super stressful. And he wrote
a book, I'm Sorry. He made a documentary short film
called A Two year Old Goes to the Hospital and
it showed these traumas that like when these and it's
already bad enough that these children are being hospitalized, but
imagine doing that and saying like, sorry, your parents can't

like come and see you except for very specific times
of day. Uh. And you know, I guess they're still
visiting hours in certain circumstances. But it is not like
that anymore, and largely due to the fact of the
work of James Robertson. And it's not just hospitals like
you think about any refugee crisis or like you know,
separation of of families at the border, which is something

that has happened in recent years. And you know, this
is why people got so upset because like we have
undeniable proof of like the damage that that does, and
and like what a rama that is for a child
and of course also for the parents. So it wasn't
just hospital stuff. It's like splitting up families period, right,
I mean, like and it does permanent damage too. It

seems irrevocable or largely irrevocable. Another way that attachment theory
has really affected society is that it's the it's the
dominant rationale that forms the basis for how society approaches
families that have problems and that their kids involved um
and attachment theory basically says it's better to leave a

kid in a troubled home and leave the existing attachments
intact than to remove the kid. If you can support
the troubled home and make it into a better home
so that everyone involved has less problems and therefore the
relationship between the caregivers and the kid are better. That

that's attachment theory, and it kind of it points out like,
just what's at steak like attachment theory. If it's not right,
then we might be doing something wrong by leaving kids
in troubled homes, right, um, like like kids lives are
at stake, And then you can extend it even further
in that attachment theory is how parents raise kids now,

so the effects of attachment theory are going to be
felt for generations and generations and generations. So hopefully it
is right. It seems like it's right. But if if
we come to find like, no, actually it's really harmful,
I'll be pretty surprised. But it would be a really
big deal because of how pervasive that whole thing is
and how many different parts of society it touches. Yeah,

for sure. All right, so I guess we should wind
it up with just a little bit about adult attachment
styles because this is you know, we've been talking about children,
of course, because they are the ones that you would
most often think of as far as being attached and bonding,
but uh, this happens into adulthood and uh. One great
example of several is the classic student mentor relationship, and

this is sort of the same thing. The whole idea
behind a student mentor isn't so different than uh, infant
and parent in that the mentor should allow a student
like a really safe haven to explore and to discover
the possibilities and to study and provide that like secure
home base for them. Right. There's also other studies on

whether UM attachment might be related to your political orientation. Uh,
maybe yes or no. Then there's nothing conclusive religion, whether
you're religious or not. There's a little more evidence for that.
But the one that really is part of pop culture
and seems to have some sort of UM validity to

it is how attachment in infancy translates to attachment in
adult romantic relationships. That's right, And this is the kind
of stuff that uh, if you've had trouble and adult
romantic relationships, hopefully you have therapied this out some because

nine times out of ten, UM, you can probably dive
deep enough to find out, Oh, this has a lot
to do with how I was raised, with how I
partner up with people Now I hate my mom and dad.
It turns out that that can be the revelation a
lot of time. Sadly, so they've they've kind of traced
like if you're what your attachment style is to what

you're likely to be like in a relationship. And UM,
one of them, the resistant ambivalent one, the one where
you're preoccupied with attachment and you're kind of clingy. That
translates oftentimes to a person who is emotionally needy and insecure,
maybe jealous, maybe really threatened by anything that might you know,
come between them and and the their mate. Um. That

that is what it translates to in an adult relationship.
And again people are really really comple x. You might
check some of those boxes, you might check some other boxes.
This is like a general umbrella, but there does seem
to be a pretty solid correlation between these. What about
um avoidant so avoidant uh? And this is it all

kind of makes sense to me. Uh, They they're more
likely to value freedom later in life. And then also
on the downside, seek out a relationship that might be
emotionally distant. Uh. Intimacy maybe a problem and they might
reject those kind of relationships, right because they've learned that
they can't depend on anybody else, they have to depend
on themselves, so they don't feel comfortable in intimate relationships.

And then the uh crime de la creme is secure
of course, of course, and that means you are way
more likely to have a really great relationship romantically later
in life, or maybe a series of them if you're lucky,
or maybe just one if that's your bag. But the
point is, players double through that one. The point is

you're more likely to have really good relationships and you
and you know, feel safe and secure and provide comfort
to your romantic partner and depend on that comfort from them,
and be intimate and be open and all the great
things that we strive to be. All of your haircuts
turn out great, you whistle while your work. Everybody just
loves you. That's the secure relationship. I just got a

great haircut. What's great? What's great about this though? Is there?
It's definitely been shown that you can change your attachment
style as an adult. You can change how you interact
with your romantic partner as an adult. You're not doomed,
you're not trapped like this. This stuff can change, but
it takes self reflection and introspection usually, like you said,

through the hypotherapy, to to be successful at that. Yep, yes, sir,
good stuff, good stuff. You got anything else? I got
nothing else. Chuck's got nothing else, I got nothing else.
That means it's time for a listener mail. All right,
I'm gonna call this hot off the presses. This is
sinning like twenty minutes ago, flying by the seat of

our pants here uh and this is You're not gonna
leave this anonymous because I haven't checked back with this person.
But this is in reference to the Tarot episode. Guys,
what gives is how it starts? I've loved every episode
I've listened to, but the terror win was insulting. I
think you joked that it is was all made up,

and then in all caps, so is everything. Everything is
something made up in someone's head. Shakespeare's made up, baseball
is made up. Norse mythology is made up. The recipe
for jello salad is made up. The only difference between
the tero and any other belief is time. Just because
it isn't ancient doesn't mean that it's less valid. Less

valid way of looking at the world interesting. I just
I'm chomping at the bit, chuck uh me. Sitting down
with my cards now to reflect on an inner turmoil
is no different than someone getting on their knees to
pray about a problem. Maybe you should get into that
and study Christianity in that same attitude, you would have

a revolt. So this person says, I'm not mad, I'm
just disappointed. Okay from Anonymous. Huh yeah, I'm a check
with this person. They may not want this out there,
that's fine. I'm with you. I find it a little
flawed as far as their argument codes. Like, people don't
sit down with a recipe for jello salad and use
that to try to predict their future, reflect on what's

going on in their life. The same with baseball. Yeah,
you could kind of compare it to religion or something
like that, or praying. I agree with that, but I
think the fact that it didn't exist and then became
extant to make playing card games a little more interesting
is kind of a fatal flaw in it. Okay, hold on,

I'm taking notes. Salad based baseball not in the same
as Tara. Okay, nice, all right at that? On final
good thank you and thank you too, Anonymous. Sorry we
let you down, But them's the brakes when you're talking
about tarot. That's right. Um. If you want to get
in touch with this, like Anonymous, did you can? You

can send us an email to stuff podcast at iHeart
radio dot com. Stuff you Should Know is a production
of iHeart Radio. For more podcasts my heart Radio, visit
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