John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory is a revolutionary theoretical development in 20th century psychoanalysis; this is not an easy read, but a must read for all attachment enthusiasts.
Prior to John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, it was believed that attachment is formed towards those who cater to our physical needs, feed us, clothe us, and keep us safe and sheltered. Bowlby was the first to propose that human beings are in need of affectionate bonds, that attachment is built and determined by the caretaker’s emotional availability towards the child, and her responsiveness to child’s distress. The Attachment Theory is the product of an extensive, years long research, comprising of dozens of children observed under various attachment styles, periods, changes, and circumstances.
The Attachment Theory, Volume 1: Attachment and Loss
The first volume, titled Attachment and Loss, is a classic in its field. In the early scientific stages of psychoanalysis, Bowlby shares his research, methodology, and ethological influences, while keeping Freud’s psychoanalytic framework. The first 10 chapters might be a bit daunting for the common reader, who is less interested in the exact methodology and its reasoning, but chapters 11 and on apply to every mother-child relationship and offer an immense amount of knowledge on the various attachment styles, their recognition, possible easing techniques and more. This volume is key to understanding how attachments are formed, what possible reactions there are to loss, and how to understand and combine these for the benefit of the child.
I find the teachings of this volume relevant for the forming of healthy attachments from very young ages, for the recognition of possible triggers of loss and their prompt amendment, and – of course, for the attachment’s stands within the physical and biological frameworks.
The Attachment Theory, Volume 2: Separation: Anxiety and Anger
The second volume, titled Separation: Anxiety and Anger, is groundbreaking to say the least. Separation, anxiety and anger are the dark side of attachment, and these are experienced by anyone who is lucky enough to form an attachment. It is very easy for us, the adults, to disregard a child’s cry for a lost or a broken toy, however, these tears represent real and actual pain that is being shut down in modern societies, in which most tears are classified as manipulation or attention seeking. This volume is an absolute must to really understand how loss, from small to big, affects human beings of all ages, but more so – how we, as parents, ought to empower our children through their feelings.
The teachings of this volume are relevant for separation anxiety at all ages, for difficulties in transitioning from one place to another or from one activity to another. Surely, they are relevant for all cases in which the subject of attachment is missing or for any reason inactive.
The Attachment Theory, Volume 3: Loss: Sadness and Depression
The third volume, titled Loss: Sadness and Depression is the closing volume of this trilogy, completing the circle of attachment, from present, to absent, through lost. Here you will find the developmental model for loss, the various dynamics of mourning, and the process of depression, accommodation and healing.
The teachings of this volume are relevant for almost all cases of sadness and depression, as no matter how we look at those – they include loss. These can be applied to major losses such as separation or death, but also apply to dealing with a lost desire or a lost dream.
As stated by the Sunday Times, London: “It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of Dr. Bowlby’s work.” To say that these three books changed my perspective on relationships of any sort, would be saying the least. I purchased it for all of my friends who are awaiting their babies and even to a few friends who didn’t really understand why they are the way they are, but wanted to see a change in their lives. There are only a few books that as as recommended by me as these are.
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