Chapter

Perspective 7: “It's Dangerous to Be an Infant”: Ongoing Relevance of John Bowlby's Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness in Promoting Healthier Births, Safer Maternal–Infant Sleep, and Breastfeeding in a Contemporary Western Industrial Context

James J. McKenna and Lee T. Gettler

in Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199755059
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979479 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755059.003.0031
Perspective 7: “It's Dangerous to Be an Infant”: Ongoing Relevance of John Bowlby's Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness in Promoting Healthier Births, Safer Maternal–Infant Sleep, and Breastfeeding in a Contemporary Western Industrial Context

Show Summary Details

Preview

Anthropologists rightly critique aspects of Bowlby’s concept of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA), particularly as regards his limited temporal focus on the Pleistocene, on one specific, marginalized hunting and gathering society, the !Kung, and for his misconception regarding how many individuals infants can “attach to” simultaneously. He underestimated the critical role of breastfeeding in shaping contours around which his version of infantile “reflexive perceptuo-motor mechanisms” related to attachment evolved. Nevertheless, this volume illustrates how Bowlby’s polymathic scholarship continues to foster new insights, especially in evolutionary medicine, and highlights scenarios stressing the role of alloparents (substitute caregivers) throughout human (Homo) evolution. Moreover, Bowlby’s original formulations provide a critical beginning point for explaining how and why, even within the more multiplex nexus of infant social relationships, contact and proximity with at least one committed primary caregiver remains a prerequisite for facilitating human psychological resilience.

Keywords: attachment; bowlby; EEA; resilience; breastfeeding

Chapter.  6143 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.