Theory Application

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The existing variants of development theories find different applications depending on the situation. Attachment theory, however, is one of the most common and widely applicable theories that define the course of development from childhood to adulthood. Its particular suitability is the fact that it covers the entire course of development without imposing an age limit on its applicability. According to Mercer (2006) the theoretical model seeks to describe the tenets of both short-term and long-term human interpersonal relationships. It is important to note, however, that this theory is not to be regarded as a one-size-fits all model of interpersonal relationships; rather, a model for determining the nature of human response in the face of such situations as separation from loved ones, when hurt or in the perception of a threat. In fact, it is this kind of narrowness and focus that makes this theory even more suitable for the following discussion as will be apparent in the sections below. Fundamentally, all infants and children become attached or develop a relationship with their primary caregiver; whether a parent, or a guardian. Even so, individual differences feature in the quality and level of these relationships. The important tenet of this theory that will shape the discussion is the claim that children have to get attached to at least one primary caregiver for them to properly develop emotionally and socially, and learn how to manage their feelings (Mercer, 2006). Correspondingly, any other person who is capable of providing them with the requisite social interaction and child care become an instrumental person of i9nfluence in their lives, level of blood relations notwithstanding. Failure by the caregiver to be responsive or sensitive in their social interaction with the child are detrimental to the development of the child. In particular, the fact that the child cannot exit such relationships mean that they will have to adopt their mechanisms of survival and management in such relationships. The level of sensitivity of the primary caregiver determines whether the attachment will be secure, anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant, or disorganized- elements that will also form part of this discussion.

Movie Overview

 Thirteen, a 2003 American drama film, is a movie that caught the attention of many child development analysts, experts and movie enthusiasts due to its unique coverage of such topics as drugs, alcohol, underage sexual behavior and general teenage delinquency. Written by the renowned director Catherine Hardwicke, the film features a 13-year-old Tracy Freeland the protagonist (Karlyn, 2006). At the beginning of the movie, Miss Freeland is portrayed as a sweet honor and smart student at a Los Angeles Middle School. Her hairdresser mother, Melanie, is recovering from alcoholism, but struggles to singlehandedly raise both Tracy and Mason-Tracy’s older brother. Even then, Tracy feels utterly ignored by Melanie who has devoted much of her time to her boyfriend Brady- an ex-addict. The situation continues to draw Tracy away from her mother who is too engrossed in her affairs withy Brady and the hairdressing business to notice the slowly burgeoning levels of depression in her daughter.  Tracy’s condition makes other children to tease her in school given her less trendy clothes. She coaxes her mother into buying her trendier clothes who earns her a certain level of admiration from Evie Zamora, one of her schoolmates. A popular girl at school, Evie soon develops a close relationship with Tracy, and soon influences Tracy into stealing a woman’s wallet at Melrose Avenue. Evie is impressed by this act and lures Tracy into a shopping spree after which they throw themselves into a world of criminal activity, sex and drugs.

The relationship becomes so close-knit that Evie soon moves into the Freeland’s house. She confesses her admiration for Tracy and promises her that she will stay by her forever which gives Tracy a sense of security which she has been missing from her unconcerned mother. Melanie discovers the fast-evolving unbecoming relationship and separates the two accomplices by attempting to send Tracy to her father who rejects the idea. When Melanie protects Tracy from Brooke’s accusations, Tracy weeps uncontrollably in her mother’s arms. Melanie insists that she lover Tracy, and both fall asleep in Tracy’s bedroom. The next section will concentrate on Tracy Freeland and examine her relationship with Melanie (her mother) and Evie (her close friend) with respect to the theory of attachment. The movie, and the character, is particularly suitable for this discussion since it illustrates her process of development from middle school to adolescence, which are undoubtedly the two most pivotal developmental stages in human beings. The latter stage lays foundation to the future attachments depending on the nature of relationship between a child and their primary caregivers- mostly their parents. Tracy’s course of development and the characteristic events play a major role in this discussion mainly because it illustrates the impact of the nature of interpersonal relationship between a child and the caregiver as a function of the future relationships with people who may be dubbed ‘secondary caregivers’ like Evie.  It is important to note that all along, Melanie had neglected Tracy both during her alcoholism period and during the recovery despite the arguably happy ending when the two mend their broken relationship.

Explanation of Development

In place of stages, like in other theoretical frameworks, attachment theory has four patterns namely secure, anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant, and disorganized or disoriented attachment. At the beginning of the movie, Tracy’s behavior shows anxious-ambivalent attachment. Waters, Corcoran, and Anafarta (2005) notes that this stages features a feeling of separation from the caregiver in the child; thus, they feel anxiety and lacks reassurance as to whether the situation will resume normalcy. On that note the child may retain their sense of calm and normal behavior for a period of time then change when they finally determine that the caregiver is not concerned about their existence. Tracy’s attachment pattern at the beginning of the movie depicts this situation since she is a normal and smart middle-school girl until her Melanie’s lack of responsibility towards her goes out of hand. She then breaks her bond with Melanie and forms one with Evie, when she transitions from being a smart school-girl to a complete degenerate. At this point, she falls into the anxious-avoidant attachment stage when she entirely assumes the existence of her mother and forms a bond with Evie. Conversely, at the end of the movie, Tracy is at the secure attachment stage or pattern. According to Waters et al. (2005) this pattern or stage describes a child’s feeling of protection from the caregivers. In particular, they feel that the caregiver can cater for their emotional and physical needs. Though odd, Tracy can be said to demonstrate this attachment pattern in the face of uncontrollable tears she sheds after Melanie reassures her of the love she has had for Tracy. Melanie embraces her and she remains in the arms of her mother probably as a sign of regret of the past behaviors and a renewed commitment to improve her relationship with her primary caregiver. Unlike before, she has now quit her cockiness and combative nature and is close to her mother for the first time throughout the movie. However, this could be a momentary change of heart and it cannot be certainly said that the relationship will last.

In the course of the movie, and the life of Tracy Freeland, the protagonist goes through a series of life and developmental changes. At the beginning, she is a smart schoolgirl who gradually becomes depressed in the face of her mother’s neglect. As a result of the feeling of neglect, she grows depressed and attempts to forge a new relationship with Evie, probably as a means of compensating for the love and protection she has missed from her primary caretaker. Alongside Evie, Tracy spins out of control and indulges in petty criminal activities like theft, drug abuse and sex. At the end, she realizes her mistake and reconciles with her mother. As had been noted at the introductory section, attachment theory would account for these changes through the four patterns or styles of attachment. According to Marvin and Britner (2008), as fundamental developmental stages, childhood and adolescence features the creation of an internal working framework that is often critical for formation of attachments. It is this working model that determines the nature of attachment between the child and anyone in their social circle. Age, ongoing social experience, and cognitive sophistication play a central part in the intricacy and development of the working framework which shapes attachment-related behaviors. To this end, a child may lose or acquire certain characteristics based on the balance between the model and these three factors according to Marvin and Britner (2008). Contextually, Tracy lost her normal behavior when she sensed the detachment of her mother from her affairs. Her behavior notably changed with respect to her age, cognitive development, and social experience.

However, the theory has failed to explain the abrupt change in Tracy’s behavior from an academically-focused girl to a spoilt teenager. It is important to note that the theory only explains changes in attachment from her mother to Evie and other members of the social circle, but fails to account for what happens as a result of the attachment. Even within the four patterns, the theory does not explicitly link Tracy’s poor pattern of behavior to the disengagement from her primary caregiver. Any attempts at explaining the behavioral change based on the theory is mere speculation and stems from the postulation that since Tracy was away from her mother’s control (broken relationship) she tried to manage the situation the best way she knew- by adopting an unbecoming behavior with the facilitation of Evie. Besides, the twist at the end is abrupt and somewhat inexplicable. Normally, it would be expected that a child will gradually transition from anxious-avoidant attachment to secure attachment (Tanner, Warren & Bellack, 2015), and not as fast as Tracy did. On this note, I feel that the theory has failed to adequately express the changes, but has sufficiently explained the development of attachment between Tracy and her primary caregiver, Melanie.

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Essays Stock (2024). Theory Application. Essays Stock.

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