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Absent Mind

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Emotional Bonding With An Abuser.


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Some scientists were conducting an experiment, he said, trying to gauge the impact of abuse on children. Ducks, like people, develop bonds between mother and young. They call it imprinting. So the scientists set out to test how that imprint bond would be affected by abuse.

The control group was a real mother duck and her ducklings. For the experimental group, the scientist used a mechanical duck they had created - feathers, sound, and all - which would, at timed intervals, peck the ducklings with its mechanical beak. A painful peck, one a real duck would not give.

They varied these groups. Each group was pecked with a different level of frequency. And then they watched the ducklings grow and imprint bond with their mother.

Over time, he went on, the ducklings in the control group would waddle along behind their mother. But as they grew, there would be more distance between them. They'd wander and explore.

The ducklings with the pecking mechanical mother, though, followed much more closely. Even the scientists were stunned to discover that the group that bonded and followed most closely was the one that had been pecked repeatedly with the greatest frequency. The more the ducklings were pecked and abused, the more closely they followed. The scientist repeated the experiment and got the same results.Over time, he went on, the ducklings in the control group would waddle along behind their mother. But as they grew, there would be more distance between them. They'd wander and explore.They varied these groups. Each group was pecked with a different level of frequency. And then they watched the ducklings grow and imprint bond with their mother.

From: Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder

by Rachel Reiland

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That's just a cruel experiment that tells me nothing I didn't already know. How can they justify that?

I agree with you. I was thinking when I was researching lethal doses for medication that all doses are for rats. It seems awful. I can't imagine how they can poison them and wait for see if they are going to die.

Rachel had her therapy in the beginning of the 90s so at the time this kind of bonding might not have been well understood within the medical community.

I still find it interesting though, but I'm sorry I posted something that made you feel angry. It was not my intention.

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I didn't expect the ducklings to follow their mechanical mother even more. My hypothesis for this would be that they don't have the self-confidence and encouragement necessary to explore the world. They feel too unsafe.

I think it is interesting. Although these ducklings will be scarred for life, it could help advance treatment for humans, but is is not clear how. It's a grey area.

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