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Attachment Theory

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Inge Bretherton – One of the best experts on this subject based on the ideXlab platform.

  • the origins of Attachment Theory john bowlby and mary ainsworth
    Developmental Psychology, 1992
    Co-Authors: Inge Bretherton


    Attachment Theory is based on the joint work of John Bowlby (1907-1991) and Mary Salter Ainsworth (1913- ). Its developmental history begins in the 1930s, with Bowlby’s growing interest in the link between maternal loss or deprivation and later personality development and with Ainsworth’s interest in security Theory. Although Bowlby’s and Ainsworth’s collaboration began in 1950, it entered its most creative phase much later, after Bowlby had formulated an initial blueprint of Attachment Theory, drawing on ethology, control systems Theory, and psychoanalytic thinking, and after Ainsworth had visited Uganda, where she conducted the first empirical study of infantmother Attachment patterns. This article summarizes Bowlby’s and Ainsworth’s separate and joint contributions to Attachment Theory but also touches on other theorists and researchers whose work influenced them or was influenced by them. The article then highlights some of the major new fronts along which Attachment Theory is currently advancing. The article ends with some speculations on the future potential of the Theory. Attachment Theory is the joint work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991). Drawing on concepts from ethology, cybernetics, information processing, developmental psychology, and psychoanalysis, John Bowlby formulated the basic tenets of the Theory. He thereby revolutionized our thinking about a child’s tie to the mother and its disruption through separation, deprivation, and bereavement. Mary Ainsworth’s innovative methodology not only made it possible to test some of Bowlby’s ideas empirically but also helped expand the Theory itself and is responsible for some of the new directions it is now taking. Ainsworth contributed the concept of the Attachment figure as a secure base from which an infant can explore the world. In addition, she formulated the concept of maternal sensitivity to infant signals and its role in the development of infant-mother Attachment patterns. The ideas now guiding Attachment Theory have a long developmental history. Although Bowlby and Ainsworth worked independently of each other during their early careers, both were influenced by Freud and other psychoanalytic thinkers—directly in Bowlby’s case, indirectly in Ainsworth’s. In this article, I document the origins of ideas that later became central to Attachment Theory. I then discuss the subsequent period of Theory building and consolidation. Finally, I review some of the new directions in which the Theory is currently developing and speculate on its future potential. In taking this retrospective developmental approach to the origins of Attachment Theory, I am reminded of Freud’s (1920/1955) remark:

J. David Creswell – One of the best experts on this subject based on the ideXlab platform.

  • How integrative is Attachment Theory? Unpacking the meaning and significance of felt security
    Psychological Inquiry, 2007
    Co-Authors: Richard M Ryan, Kirk Warren Brown, J. David Creswell


    Comments on an article by Mikulincer and Shaver (see record 2007-13150-001). Mikulincer and Shaver argue that Attachment Theory belongs under the umbrella of positive psychology, and moreover that Attachment Theory can supply an integrative framework for the positive psychology movement. In their view, Attachment Theory offers a “demonstrably generative and empirically validated framework in which both positive and negative aspects of human behavior and experience can be conceptualized.” Their target article attempts to support that view by reviewing some very creative and systematically connected experiments demonstrating the effects of security-supportive and unsupportive primes on an array of relational and well-being outcomes. In this commentary we have attempted to deconstruct the notion of felt security as a means to address Mikulincer and Shaver’s position that Attachment Theory may supply an integrative framework for positive psychology. We hope the comments provide constructive occasion for Mikulincer and Shaver to continue to formulate the role of Attachment Theory in positive psychology (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).

Jeremy Holmes – One of the best experts on this subject based on the ideXlab platform.

  • Attachment Theory in Clinical Practice: A Personal Account
    British Journal of Psychotherapy, 2015
    Co-Authors: Jeremy Holmes


    Attachment Theory was built by Bowlby as an attempt to link psychoanalysis with the wider world of ethology, cybernetics and evolutionary Theory. Initially rejected by the psychoanalytic establishment there has been a gradual rapprochement. This paper attempts to accelerate this process by laying out the points of overlap and distinction between the Attachment and psychoanalytic perspectives on clinical treatment. It summarizes the main tenets of Attachment Theory and then looks in detail at the therapeutic alliance, classification, transference/countertransference, and interpretation and mentalizing from an Attachment perspective. A clinical example illustrates how insecure and secure Attachment play out in the consulting room, and the paper ends by suggesting that Attachment provides a suitable evidence base for the relational/Independent psychoanalytic approach.

  • john bowlby and Attachment Theory
    , 2014
    Co-Authors: Jeremy Holmes


    Part I: Origins Chapter. Introduction. Biographical. Maternal Deprivation. Part II: Attachment Theory. Attachment, Anxiety, Internal Working Models. Loss, Anger and Grief. Attachment Theory and Personality Development: The Research Evidence. Part III: Implications. Bowlby and the Inner World: Attachment Theory and Psychoanalysis. Attachment Theory and the Practice of Psychotherapy. Attachment Theory and Psychiatric Disorder. Attachment Theory and Society. Epilogue

  • The Clinical Implications of Attachment Theory
    British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1994
    Co-Authors: Jeremy Holmes


    The work of John Bowlby, although influential in developmental psychology and social psychiatry, has had relatively little impact within his parent discipline of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The paper traces Bowlby’s relationship with the British Psychoanalytic Society, contrasting his ideas with those of Klein. Drawing on recent findings in developmental psychology stimulated by Attachment Theory, it outlines the clinical relevance of the concepts of the secure base and narrative, and reviews notions of defence and the Oedipal situation from the Attachment perspective. Attachment Theory is not a new ‘school’ of psychotherapy but addresses principles which underlie all effective therapies. An extended case study is described illustrating these points.