©1997 POL.it
Vol.3 Issue 1 Gennaio 1997


As a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst I have been involved withaggression psychology-related issues since the very beginning of mypractice.

For many years I have been doing research on early parent-offspringearly attachment bonds, and have found that human relationships aredeeply rooted in early development in several respects.
Naturalistic and experimental prospective studies have steadilyshown that early attachments are positively correlated with adults'attitudes towards one's peers, one's children, parents, friends,close kin, spouses, communities, one's environment and culturalvogues and prejudices, one's views on current educational systems,one's views on politics and friendship, one's capacity to love and beloved, with cruelty, parenthood, aggressiveness, and so on.
As a clinician and researcher, I have adopted a multidisciplinaryapproach to relationships generally, and to aggressiveness oraggressive relationships, in particular as that advanced by Bowlby'sTheory of Attachment.
As Seymour Feshbach (1987), states, early attachments and adultpolitical ideology, patriotism, nationalism and internationalism aredeeply related in that similar mechanisms mediate early attachmentsto caregivers and later attachment to one's culture and nation.
Thetendency to equate nations with parental figures suggests that one'snation and government are often viewed in terms of parental imageryand that there is a similarity between affective attachment towardsparents and affective attachments towards one's nation.
In fact, the primary question addressed in conversations withProfessor Feshbach was the role of affect-related factors,particularly values, as possible mediators of individual differencesin attitudes towards nuclear armament-disarmament issues. One suchfactor is value placed on children. Those individuals who havegreater affection for children or who are more supportive ofdevoting national resources towards meeting children's needs beingmore supportive of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear testmoratorium. Studying patriotic and nationalistic values, I learnedthat patriotism, but not nationalism, was found to be positivelycorrelated with early paternal attachment while nationalism, but notpatriotism, was found to be significantly related to pronucleararmament views. (Feshbach, 1989, 1992)
From a different vantage point -but equally related to aggressionissues- I entered the field of the bully-victim problem in schoolswhere I found that anxiously avoidant attached children wereastoundingly prone to become bullies over anxiously resistantattached children (Ainsworth et al, 1978).
Several Attachment Theorists have related the phenomenon of bullyingto pervasive pathological patterns of attachment enduring since themaking of early affectional bonds. Using the Ainsworth StrangeSituation test, administered at age 12 months, has enabledresearchers to engage in prospective, longitudinal studiescorrelating quality of attachment at age 1 with bully/victiminteractions at age 5-7. They found that anxiously attached infantsequated positively with either bullies or victims 4-6 years later.Anxious-resistant children correlated with victims, whereasanxious-avoidant children correlated with bullies. Securely attachedchildren did not correlate with either category. (Sroufe, 1988)

Four clear-cut actual interactions were found to occur: First,bullies usually victimized vulnerable, insecure children. Second,insecure children tended to become attached to their victimizers.Third, Secure children neither victimized nor were prone to bevictimized. Fourth, bullies ocassionally victimized other bullies,who were found to be less cruel and less affectionately detached.
These studies have been enhanced and furthered into late childhooodand adolescence by Olweus in Scandinavia. On a large-scale studyover more than 530,000 Norwegian students in elementary andsecondary/junior high schools (grades 1-9; ages 7-16), about 15 % ofthe sample were found to be involved in bully/victim problems.Approximately 9 %, or 52,000 students were victims, and 41,000, or7 % bullied other students regularly. About 9,000 students fellwithin the category of both victims and bully (1.6 %). (Olweus1994).
Since the prospective studies mentioned above render early detectionof both would-be bullies and victims possible, prevention of suchphenomenal deployment of aggression and suffering in childhood is anecessary endeavour to be undertaken, insofar as the communities atlarge are made aware of the perils entailed by remaining passive inthe face of anxiously attached infants, thus calling for governmentand non-government organizations to engage in preventative campaignsaimed at ensuring and strengthening parent-infant bonds.

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