The Problem with Evan
, we learned about a troubled boy and his relationship
with his family.
At age four, Evan was classified a “conduct disordered,” and it only got
worse from there.
At age eleven, he was often suspended from school for playing pranks,
such as putting paint into his teacher’s coffee or smoking on school grounds.
were frequently sent home to notify his mother Karen and stepfather Mike about his
aggressive behavior. (The Problem with Evan, 1994). He seems like a good kid on the
outside, so what is the source of Evan’s resentment?
In “Discovering Love,” Harry Harlow performed an experiment to evaluate the
relationship between a mother and her child.
Although a mother can provide primary
needs such as hunger, thirst, and avoidance of pain, love develops as a secondary need.
When compared to a wire mesh mother, the monkeys preferred a cloth mother, even if
she didn’t provide milk.
This is what Harlow calls
His research found
that bonding with the cloth mother was more important to the young monkeys than her
ability to provide a primary need.
The monkeys even became healthier, physically and
psychologically when contact comfort was provided. (Harlow, 1958).
In comparison to the monkeys, when there is a lack of contact comfort, Evan
becomes angry, emotionally unstable, and agitated.
Evan doesn’t receive hugs or
attention from his mother or stepfather.
As a result, he strives for their attention.
good grades at school doesn’t seem to be good enough, so he gets into trouble in order to
receive negative attention.
Although he knows there will be consequences for his
mischief, he says he would rather have negative attention from his parents than none at
all. (The Trouble with Evan, 1994). When Mike and Karen visited residents of the
Portage Program, they revealed how they felt about affection from their own parents.