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Psychology and Inscape

Louise Carey is author of the science fiction thriller Inscape. she has co-written two novels for Gollancz, The City of Silk and Steel and The House of War and Witness, as well as a graphic novel, Confessions of a Blabbermouth for DC Comics. She co-runs the Dungeons and Dragons blog Tabletop Tales. Louise lives in Welwyn Garden City with her partner.

When I started writing Inscape, I was studying Psychology at Oxford Brookes University. Some of the theories I was learning about—especially theories about child development and the bond between parent and child—made their way into the book in various shapes and forms.

Attachment Theory and Bowlby’s Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis

Attachment theory is an area of psychology that focuses on infant development, and what young children need in order to grow up into emotionally and psychologically healthy adults. Attachment theory holds that children develop best when they have a secure, stable attachment to their caregiver/s. An attachment is a deep bond between caregiver and child, formed through the caregiver meeting the child’s needs, both physical and emotional, and making them feel safe. You can find more information on attachment theory here

There is also some evidence that the reverse is true: children who grow up without a secure, stable attachment to their caregiver are more likely (though by no means certain!) to develop various psychological disorders and antisocial behaviour. This is Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis: being deprived of a maternal (or parental) figure in infancy can negatively impact a child’s development for the rest of their life. There has been a lot of research done on the effects of maternal deprivation in orphanages and other institutional settings where children are raised without parents. There’s more on Bowlby’s theories and research here.

Attachment theory and the maternal deprivation hypothesis  were very much in my mind when I came up with the characters of Tanta and Cole. Both Tanta and Cole grow up in the institutional setting of the Ward House, a ‘factory farm orphanage’ where they are deprived of a parental figure to foster their psychological development. I was interested in what growing up in this setting would be like for them, and also what InTech, an immensely powerful corporation, might do to try and counteract the negative effects of such an upbringing.


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