Why Babies Need Hugs


Humans possess an innate nature of being capable of forming and maintaining intimate relationships. And little is known about how it is crucial in the process of growing and developing of an individual to achieve his or her full potential. Through satisfying these needs,a person can have a sense of security in all aspects of human life and as well as avoid any unpleasant feelings or consequences. Failure to assume this critical role may lead to the deferred development of emotional and physical growth particularly among infants and this is commonly associated to anaclitic depression.

Babies need hugs.

Anaclitic depression

Anaclitic depression was first coined by the Hungarian psychiatrist René Spitz in 1946. He was researching orphaned children, and noticed that infants became depressed after separation from their primary caregivers (in this case, their mothers). He concluded that removal of the primary caregivers can cause serious problems, resulting in delayed physical and emotional growth.

Babies and anaclitic depression

Attachment disorders including anaclitic depression have been studied for over 50 years, and this theory is now appropriately classified as inhibited reactive attachment disorder (RAD). Children who fall into this category can be identified because they are unable to initiate and respond to social interactions in an appropriate manner.

This is related to the loss of primary attachment, even if alternative caregivers are able to provide adequate care. A non attachment disorder may also develop as a result of the infant not having the opportunity to develop at least one attachment with a reliable caregiver, who is continuously present in the baby’s life; such as cases where the infant has lived in multiple foster homes or orphanages.

Symptoms of anaclitic depression include being withdrawn from caregivers. Infants are unable to smile or react to stimuli when picked up or interacting with others around them. They may even be lethargic or seems to have no energy to even eat or drink.

Older infants, on the other hand, would display no interest in playing with toys and will avoid comfort from caregivers. They will also prefer to be alone and may act aggressively to peers. They will usually refuse to ask for help when needed, and refrain from all forms of interaction.

Treatment of anaclitic depression would be directed at developing healthy relationships and dependency on the caregivers. When placed in an environment with stable and nurturing caregivers, most children would do well and recover completely, however, some may continue to suffer with attachment problems. The length and severity of neglect usually determines the response to treatment.