The Neufeld Scientific Research Centre

The Hierarchical Nature (Alpha / Dependent Instincts, Bully Instinct)


How attachment facilitates dependence:

  • Doi, T. (2002).The Anatomy of Dependence. Kodansha.

  • Bowlby, J. (1982).Attachment: Second Edition. Basic Books.

  • Bowlby, J. (1988). A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. Tavistock professional book. London: Routledge.

  • Cassidy, J. and Shaver, Ph., (ed. 2012). Handbook of Attachment: theory, research and clinical applications, 2nd edition. New York: Guildford Press.

Alpha instincts and attachment hierarchy:

  • Doi, T. (2002).The Anatomy of Dependence. Kodansha.

  • Suomi, S. J. (1997). Early determinants of behaviour. Evidence from primate studies. British Medical Bulletin, 53, p. 170 -184.

  • Lorenz, K. (1970). Studies in Animal and Human Behavior, Volume I. Harvard University Press

  • Piaget, J. (1965). Moral judgment of the child. New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1935.) (about parental authority in the minds of young children and charismatic role of the parent).

  • Fraiberg, S. (Ed.) (1980). Clinical studies in infant mental health: The first year of life. New York: Basic Books Inc. (Even those adults who have had the most traumatic childhood relationships behind them do not lose their instinct to protect their own child.)

Alpha complex:

  • Jung, C. (1969a). Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche. Volume 8 – The Collected Works of Jung. London: Routledge.

  • Adler, A. (1917). The Neurotic Constitution: Outlines of a Comparative Individualistic Psychology and Psychotherapy. New York: Moffat, Yard and Co.

  • Rutter, M. (1971). Parent-child separation: psychological effects on the children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12, p. 233 – 256.

  • Allen, J.G., Fonagy, P., Bateman, A. (2014). Mentalizing in clinical practice, translated by M. Cierpisz Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press. (The wounds experienced in the attachment relationship contribute to the fear of being dependent and in emotional closeness towards people from the close environment of the individual in an adulthood, p. 304).

(note: Parentification is not a construct by Dr. Neufeld but the research from this field gives strong insight into the role of alpha-dependent instincts in child development.)

Parentification in the family involves an action-related and / or emotional role change in which the child devotes his or her own needs – attention, security, and gaining development support to accommodate and care for the parent’s instrumental or emotional needs. (Chase, N. D., 1999)

The child is perceiving the parent’s needs as a more important that his/her needs, what results in lacking the developmentally natural and necessary behaviour connected with being a child. (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973; Bowlby, 1958; Hooper, 2007a,2007b).

Often, the most sensitive child is selected for the role of the keeper in the family, as he/she can respond to their needs with great empathy. (Ohntrup et al., 2010)

Parentification is connected with decreased  relationship  competencies  (Hooper,  2007a;  Macfie  et  al.,  2005).

Parentifictaion is connected with increased academic issues (Mechling, 2011).

“A person who experiences role reversal in a family often remains in a state of chronic tension and specific waiting. Many patients said that they are constantly ready to take care of the needs of their loved ones”. (Schier, 2014).

Role-reversed attachment disorder (Zeanah, Mammen and Lieberman, 1993).

  • Boszormenyi-Nagy,   I.,   &   Spark,   G.   M.   (1973).   Invisible   loyalties:   Reciprocity   in intergenerational family therapy. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel

  • Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child’s ties to his mother. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350-371.

  • Chase, N. D. (1999). Parentification: An overview of theory, research, and societal issues. In N.D.   Chase   (Ed.),  

    Burdened   Children:   Theory,   research,   and   treatment   of parentification (pp. 3-33). Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

  • Hooper,  L.  M.  (2007a).  The  application  of  attachment  theory  and  family  systems  theory  to the  phenomena  of  parentification.  The  Family  Journal:  Counseling  and  Therapy  for Couples and Families,15, 217-233.

  • Hooper,  L.  M.  (2007b).  Expanding  the  discussion  regarding  parentification  and  its  varied outcomes:  Implications  for  mental  health  research  and  practice.  Journal  of Mental Health Counseling, 19, 32337.

  • Macfie,  J.,  McElwain,  N.  L.,  Houts,  R.  M.,  &  Cox,  M.  J.  (2005).  Intergenerational transmission  of  role  reversal  between  parent  and  child:  Dyadic  and  family  system internal    working    models. Attachment    &    Human Development,    7,    51-65.

  • Mechling,  B.  M.  (2011).  The  experiences  of  youth  serving  as  caregivers  for  mentally  ill parents:  A  background  review  of  the  literature.  Journal  of Psychosocial  Nursing, 49(3), 28-33.

  • Ohntrup, J.M. et all (2010). Parentifizierung – Elternbefragung zur destruktiven Parentifizierung von Kindern psychisch erkrankter Eltern. W: S. Wiegand-Grafe, F. Mattejat, A. Lenz (red.), Kinder mit psychisch kranken Eltern. Klinik und Forschung (s. 375-398). Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

  • Schier, K. (2014). Dorosłe dzieci. (s. 26) Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe SCHOLAR.

  • Zeanah, C.H., Mammen, O.K. Zeanah, C. H., Mammen, O. K., & Lieberman, A. F. (1993). Disorders of attachment. In C.H. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of infant mental health (pp. 332-349). New York: Guilford Press.

  • Schier, K., Herke, M., Nickel, N., Egle,U.T., Hardt, J. (2015). Long-Term Sequelae of Emotional Parentification: A Cross-Validation Study Using Sequences of Regressions. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, p. 1307-1321. (parentification and depression)

The demanding child, the competitive child, and the bully:

  • Suomi, S. J. (1997). Early determinants of behaviour. Evidence from primate studies. British Medical Bulletin, 53, p. 170 -184.

  • Adler, A. (1917). The Neurotic Constitution: Outlines of a Comparative Individualistic Psychology and Psychotherapy. New York: Moffat, Yard and Co.

  • Craig, W. and Pepler, D. (1997). Naturalistic Observations of Bullying and Victimization on the Playground. LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, York University

  • Coloroso, B.. (2002). The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. Toronto: HarperCollins.

  • Verhovek, S.H. (2001). Can Bullying Be Outlawed, New York Times, March 11, 2001.

The correlations of having / not having a supportive and committed caregiver and development, well-being, depressive symptoms, substance use, academic achievement, chronic conditions:

  • Coplan RJ, Hastings PD, Lagace-Seguin DG, Moulton CE. Authoritative and authoritarian mothers’ parental goals, attributions and emotions across different childrearing contexts. Parenting: Science and Practice. 2002;2:1–26.

  • Steinberg L. We know some things: Adolescent-parent relationships in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence. 2001;11:1–20.

  • Maccoby EE, Martin JA. Socialization in the context of the family: Parent-child interaction. In: Hetherington EM, editor. Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Socialization, personality, and social development. 4th ed. New York: Wiley; 1983. pp. 1–101.

  • Radziszewska B, Richardson JL, Dent CW, Flay BR. Parenting style and adolescent depressive symptoms, smoking, and academic achievement: Ethnic, gender, and SES differences. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 1996;19:289–305

  • Shah R, Waller G. Parental style and vulnerability to depression: The role of core beliefs. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2000;188:9–25. 

  • Shaw BA, Krause N, Chatters LM, Connell CM, Ingersoll-Dayton B. Emotional support from parents early in life, aging, and health. Psychol Aging. 2004;19:4–12.

But please consider – limitations of retrospective studies:

  • Halverson Jr, C.F. (1988). Remembering your parents: reflections on the retrospective method. J Pers, Jun, 56 (2), p. 435-43.