Can the effects of privation be reversed?

SilentWriter By SilentWriter, 17th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

If your child suffers privation, can the effects of this be reversed in later life?


Although there are some studies which state that the effects of privation cannot be reversed, there are at least an equal amount which state that they can.

One study which suggests that the effects of privation cannot be reversed is the case study of Genie; a girl who was locked in a room for the first thirteen and a half years of her life by her father, because he thought she was mentally retarded. Genie never recovered fully; neither socially nor physically, and she never learned to stand erect. This study suggests that Genie had been deprived of the vital bond with the primary caregiver that allows us to develop. Moreover, Genie was only ‘discovered’ at a late age, which is well past the ‘sensitive period’ as suggested by Bowlby.

Another study which supports this is the study which was carried out by Quinton They compared a group of women who were raised in an institution with a group of women who were raised at home. When the women were in their twenties, it was found that the institutional women experienced extreme difficulties acting as parents. This could support the evolutional approach to attachments, as this states that the second beneficial reason for forming an attachment is so that relationships in the future can be modelled upon it. Because they lacked this initial attachment, they were unable to relate to their children and form an attachment with them.

In contrast to this, there is some evidence that people can actually fully recover from privation. The case study of the Czech twins is an example of this. The Czech twins were locked up in a room for the first seven years of their lives by their step mother. After discovery, they were cared for by two loving sisters, and by the age of 14 they both had normal intellectual and social functioning. As well as this, by the age of 20, they were of above-average intelligence and had excellent relationships with the members of their foster family. Although this is evidence that privated children can recover, it may be that they were discovered at a young enough age to make a full recovery. Also, they may have provided emotional care for each other, and formed a bond with each other, which meant that they were still able to develop somewhat even though they were locked in a room.

One study which suggests partial recovery is the study by Hodges & Tizard, in which they focused on a group of 65 children who had been placed into one institution before they were 4 months old. Some of the children were returned to their original homes, some of the children were adopted, and some remained in the institution. At age 16, the adopted children were closely attached to their caregiver, however the restored group were less likely to be attached. All of the children were less likely to have a special friend or be part of a group. They were also more quarrelsome and likely to become bullies. This could support research done by Robertson & Robertson, in which they stated that a child was more likely to recover from the effects of privation if they were provided with suitable substitute care. This could suggest that the reason the children who were adopted formed stronger bonds was that the care they were given was of a higher standard than the children who were returned to their original homes
. Also, the children who were returned to their original homes may not have been able to overcome the feelings of distrust which they will have learned to associate with their biological parents, as they had been let down by them before.

Overall, they is research to support both that the effects of privation can be reversed and that they cannot. It seems to be that there cannot simply be a generalised rule, but that the circumstances have to be considered carefully in each individual case.


Abandon, Abandoned, Abandonment, Child, Children, Parent, Parents, Privation

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author avatar SilentWriter
I am a 21 year old girl doing a degree in Psychology :-).

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author avatar Eric Shaun
20th Sep 2010 (#)

I love psychology soooooo much!

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author avatar Suzie chapman
5th Nov 2014 (#)

I hate psychology soooooooo much

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