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©1997 POL.it Vol.3 Issue 1 Gennaio 1997
AGGRESSION AND ATTACHMENT
Juan Carlos Garelli,
University of Buenos Aires
Department of Early Development
According to the Theory of Attachment, psychopathology is regarded as due to a person having suffered or still be suffering the consequences of disturbed patterns of attachment, leading the person to have followed a deviant pathway of development. Infancy, childhood and adolescence are seen as sensitive periods during which attachment behaviour develops -normally or deviously- according to the experience the individual has with his attachment figures.
As regards the development of anti-social, aggressive behaviour, it has been found that psychopathy generally, and felony, in particular, are deeply rooted in early histories of deserting, threatening, violent parents. Furthermore, confirmed psychopaths, such as criminals, murderers and other systematic social offenders; delinquents, in a word, usually report histories of early adverse parental attitudes and disrupted relationships, particularly mother threats of desertion as a means of discipline.
Moreover, a vicious spiral seems to arise from the mixed feelings of anxiety and anger aroused by threats of this kind. For, while on the one hand a child is made furiously angry by a parent's threat to desert, on the other. he dare not express that anger in case it makes the parent actually do so. This is the main reason why in these cases anger at a parent usually turns repressed and is then redirected to other targets: spouses, siblings, children, friends, profession, institutions, armies, or even more vulnerable targets: feeble schoolmates, feeble couples, feeble friends, parents, relatives, institutions, nations, and so on.
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