Deprivation a primary figure, oft-times the mother figure is

can be described as the
lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity, and
by extension is considered a form of abuse or neglect. Deprivation
childhood can be seen as living in a state of various forms of
neglect to provide basic needs – physical, emotional, or social.
This essay will be looking at social deprivation which is a term
describing the reduction or prevention of proper parental care or
control. This is a broad
concept which includes subsistence,
education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for
physical, mental, or emotional health.
social and emotional development in children is a complex process
which requires many factors for stimulation. One major factor is
social interaction. Healthy
development is influenced by factors such as access to loving
caregivers, adequate nutrition, sensory and cognitive stimulation,
and linguistic input.

is often related to institutionalization, growing up in poverty, and
parental problems (e.g. alcoholism or mental illness),
studies have shown it can
cause cognitive impairment and attachment disorder. A
paucity of social interactions with others can lead to less developed
social skills, including the development of empathy and Theory of
Mind. Lack
of social input into a child, where caregivers do not interact
sufficiently, nor explore personal and social aspects of living
effectively, this
is often done through play, but also through modelling
behaviour of caregivers
– encouraging
children to care for teddies and dolls may help children develop an
empathic response to others. Children who do not have many
opportunities to
play with other children can also struggle, they
find it difficult to understand the point of view of others and do
not learn to modify their behaviour to fit in with others.

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a psychoanalyst who devised
a hypothesis regarding deprivation and separation in infants.
Bowlby’s (1953)
Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis proposed
that for
at least
the first two years of life, a nurturing, affectionate and continuous
relationship with a primary figure, oft-times
the mother figure is imperative for
healthy psychological and
emotional development. Bowlby
set up the 44 thieves study (Bowlby 1944) which entailed
him gathering
supporting evidence and
retrospective data
interviewing juvenile criminals,
who had and had not been separated from their primary caregiver. The
study concluded that the
of maternal deprivation include: An
inability to form attachments in the future, affectionless
psychopathy (inability to feel remorse), delinquency
(behavioural problems in adolescence) and
with Cognitive Development. It
is important to note that upon evaluation of the study, the
results are not concrete evidence, due to factors such as
experimenter bias and recalling memories may induce unintentional

rare, there are a few known cases of extreme social deprivation
Genie the American feral child, who spent most of her childhood tied
to a children’s toilet and locked in a bedroom away from any social
interaction. Another study is that of
Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron
a French feral boy who emerged
the woods of the Aveyron region in the late 1790s and, allegedly, was
raised by wolves. The
boy was then around 12 years old and couldn’t speak any language.
first examination, the physicians speculated he may be deaf and mute,
but once
he was examined at the National Institute of the Deaf in Paris, they
determined that he was able
to hear but perhaps he had never beheld any language.
researchers, attempted to teach Victor French and some
communication, Victor did
show a
small amount of
progress, he appeared
to be uninterested in learning, often hyperactive and aggressive.
was put
close supervision of
Jean Itard (a young medical doctor)
managed to teach
several phrases and some social conventions, like
wearing clothes, which
Victor embraced,
but, sadly,
never became a fully functional member of society.

conclude, deprivation of any kind in childhood is serious
and negative,
deprivation influences cognitive and emotional development which
detrimental consequences for the child.
It is also important to acknowledge that all
the effects
of deprivation this essay has
discussed are likely to be perpetuated into the next generations.
Parents who do not know how to play or empathise or communicate
effectively without aggression or contain their emotions effectively,
because of a deprivation in these areas when they were children, are
less likely to enable their own children to have these skills as