Jun 25 2008

Rani the Bear: The connecting link between Ram Singh Munda and John Bowlby.

Ok, here is the connection. John Bowlby can be called the “father of modern attachment theory” and Ram Singh Munda can be called the “father of Rani , the sloth bear from India.”

Here is a picture of Rani and Ram. Apparantly, riding on the back of Ram’s bike is a favorite activity for Rani.

Well, there is more…

John Bowlby, as I have mentioned, was the early researcher and writer who helped us understand the importance of early childhood attachment with a primary caretaker, usually our mothers or a mother replacement figure (dad’s can do it!).

Ram Singh Munda found Rani as a tiny bear cub and believed that Rani might not survive in the wild on his own.

So, Ram took Rani home and began to take care of her. He was sensitive and responsive to her needs and Rani became very attached to Ram and his daughter.

You can see in the picture that Rani seems very happy riding on the back of Ram’s bike. From the stories, Rani became very emotionally attached to Ram. Ram became the substitute mother/father figure for Rani.

Likewise, John Bowlby learned about attachment in a similar way. Hi biography tells of the strong influence of the children he observed and worked with in an institution, eespecially a 7-8 year old young boy who followed him around all the time. This boy came to be known as Bowlby’s shadow.

Bowlby began his clinical work, research and writing at a time when psychoanalysis was the predominant theoretical foundation for psychotherapy.

Bowlby was viewed as a radical and his ideas, all of which have been proven through rigorous scientific methods, as heretical and incorrect.

One of the ideas in dispute was the idea that infants were not able to grieve and mourn because of inadequate ego development. Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmeund Freud, believed that infants were not harmed if there mother figure was removed, so long as a suitable replacement figure appeared on the scene quickly enough.

We know this is not true and Bowlby argued correctly that infants do grieve and mourn whenever attachment behaviors are activated and the mother (attachment figure) remains unavailable.

Bowlby’s 1959 theoretical paper, Grief and mourning in infance and early childhood, provided the intellectual foundation for the fact that infants and very young children were profoundly affected by separation and/or deprivation of mothers or other attachment figures, like fathers, or grandparents.

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