psych paper 3 - ASSIGNMENT 3 Trouble with Child Abuse...

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ASSIGNMENT 3 Trouble with Child Abuse: Looking Closer at Evan Marc Krieberg Umich Id: 55056448 11/26/2007
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55056448 pg.2 Growing up in an abusive home can be difficult for a young child to adapt to, but also can affect how the said child reacts to people outside of their household. This holds true for Evan, an eleven year old boy living with his mother, Karen, stepfather, Mike, and sister, Kimberly. Evan is living evidence that Harlow’s theory on abusive relationships holds true. However, the blame cannot be placed on Evan alone, but also Evan’s parents for their parenting techniques, and their ways of handling Evan’s disruptiveness. Their hectic lifestyle not only affects Evan, but his whole family who must cope with this stress on a daily basis. Karen and Mike develop constructive and maladaptive coping strategies to handle their “problem” child Evan, while these coping strategies lead Evan and Kimberly to possibly be put at risk of child abuse. Before discussing Evan’s family life, it is key to understand H.F. Harlow’s findings about abusive relationships. Harlow tested his theories on infant rhesus monkeys to see if there was an intrinsic need for something beyond just food and other basic necessities. He theorized that the monkeys needed something to clutch, or something to love, like a mother. The way Harlow tested this was by assembling two surrogate mothers, one made of sponge and terry cloth, the other made of mesh wire. Both of these “mothers” were equipped with a breast for feeding and contained a light bulb for warmth (Hock, 2005). This meant that the two mothers were identical, “except that for the ability to offer what Harlow called contact comfort” (Hock, 2005). Harlow tested this abusive relationship theory, by placing both surrogate mothers in the cage with the monkey, however only one mother would have milk to feed the infant. What Harlow observed is that the infant monkey would be clinging to the terry cloth covered mother most of the time, even when the food was in the mesh wire mother. This finding made it clear that there was more
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55056448 pg.3 than just the needs of hunger and thirst for these infants, that the monkeys desired “contact comfort,” or clinging to the mother that comforted them: the terry cloth mother (Hock, 2005). When Harlow repeated this experiment he modified it slightly by only having one mother in the cage with the infant, either the terry cloth covered one or the mesh wire mother. When examining the results from this experiment, Harlow discovered that “both infants ate the same amount and gained weight at the same rate; the infants in the wire mother condition did not digest the milk as well and experienced frequent bouts of diarrhea” (Hock, 2005).
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