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John Bowlby - From Psychoanalysis to Ethology: Unravelling the Roots of Attachment Theory

ISBN: 978-0-470-68364-4
210 pages
April 2011
John Bowlby - From Psychoanalysis to Ethology: Unravelling the Roots of Attachment Theory (0470683643) cover image
This accessible book draws on unique evidence from oral histories and little-known archive material to shed new light on the working relationships which led to John Bowlby’s shift from psychoanalysis to ethology as a frame of reference – and ultimately to the development of attachment theory.
  • A unique exploration of the origins of Bowlby’s ideas and the critical transformation in his thinking – offers an alternative to standard accounts of the origin of attachment theory
  • Explores the significance of Bowlby’s influential working relationships with Robert Hinde, Harry Harlow, James Robertson and Mary Ainsworth
  • Provides students, academics, and practitioners with clear insights into the development of attachment theory
  • Accessible to general readers interested in psychology and psychoanalysis
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About the Author.

Foreword (Professor Jerome Kagan).

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1 Biographical Notes and Early Career.

2 Loneliness in Infancy: The WHO Report and Issues of Separation.

3 Working with James Robertson: The Importance of Observation.

4 Bowlby’s Acquaintance with Ethology: The Work of Lorenz, Tinbergen, and Hinde.

5 From Theoretical Claims to Empirical Evidence: Harry Harlow and the Nature of Love.

6 Mary Ainsworth's Role in the Study of Attachment.

Conclusions.

References.

Name Index.

Subject Index.

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Frank C. P. van der Horst is a psychologist at De Waag Rotterdam, an outpatient clinic for forensic psychiatry, and a researcher at the Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University. His research aims at describing the history of ideas in the behavioural sciences, such as the ideas and work of John Bowlby, René Spitz, William Goldfarb, Jean Piaget, and Harry Harlow.
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“van der Horst’s treatment of the cross-fertilization of ideas—as well as the personal and professional relationships that went into their making—is commendable. Given our own contemporary interest in the promises and pitfalls of interdisciplinarity, it emphasizes the many gains that can emerge out of an active commitment to talk across disciplines. With its focus on a series of important attempts to merge the goals of the psychological and the natural sciences, van der Horst’s book should equally interest historians of ethology, biology, psychology, psychoanalysis, and the human sciences more broadly. Despite the complex nature of the story that it tells, this book is highly accessible and well suited to nonspecialists and specialists alike." (Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 2 October 2013)

“Overall, this book, although somewhat cost-prohibitive, does a very good job of helping to contextualize the development of attachment theory and would be useful reading for both clinicians and researchers at all levels of understanding regarding attachment theory. I agree with Jerome Kagan that this is a ‘‘coherent, gracefully written, even-handed, and richly detailed description.”  (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1 October 2012)

“Nonetheless, for those interested in the history of psychology, and attachment theory in particular, I recommend John Bowlby: From Psychoanalysis to Ethology for what it tells us about the origins of attachment and John Bowlby’s courageous forging of attachment theory.”  (PsycCRITIQUES, 2 May 2012)

"... (this book)does a very good job of helping to contextualize the development of attachment theory and would be useful reading for both clinicians and researchers at all levels of understanding regarding attachment theory. I agree with Jerome Kagan that this is a "coherent, gracefully written, even-handed, and richly detailed description"." (Journal Marital and Family Therapy, October 2011)

Frank van der Horst applies his background in both History and Psychology to unravel the origins of a major developmental theory. What is obvious now is how attachment theory continues to grow and provide a framework for both research and practice. Less obvious now is that John Bowlby’s theory of the development of a child’s tie to mother was revolutionary. This well-written volume focuses on those crucial years when Bowlby discovered Ethology. He wove its concepts into extensive clinical observations to provide an explanation for long-lasting effects of maternal care, including separation. This volume sets the development of Bowlby’s thinking within the context of his whole life, to provide a coherent account of how a dedicated clinician came to develop an influential theory of human emotional development, from the cradle to the grave.
Dr. Joan Stevenson-Hinde, Senior Research Fellow, Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK

This volume provides invaluable insights for anyone interested in the origins of attachment theory. No previous publication describes Bowlby’s integrative approach to theory-building (particularly the process of reworking psychoanalytic concepts in light of ethology) with the same depth. Also central are detailed analyses of the historical and institutional context within which Bowlby’s ideas developed and incisive accounts, based on previously unpublished letters and interviews, of his intellectual interchanges and personal relationships with major figures and colleagues.
Inge Bretherton, Professor Emerita, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

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