THE ORIGINS OF ATTACHMENT THEORY: JOHN BOWLBY AND MARY AINSWORTH
作者: INGE BRETHERTON / 12810次阅读 时间: 2013年11月08日
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THE ORIGINS OF ATTACHMENT THEORY: JOHN BOWLBY AND MARY AINSWORTH

INGE BRETHERTON

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 psychoanalysts, 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 hut 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 chapter, 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:

I would like to thank Mary Ainsworth and Ursula Bowlby for helpful input on a draft of this article. I am also grateful for insightful comments by three very knowledgeable reviewers.

Reference: Developmental Psychology (1992), 28, 759-775. Reprinted in from R. Parke, P. Ornstein, J. Reiser, & C. Zahn-Waxler (Eds.) (1994). A century of developmental psychology. (Chapter 15, pp. 431-471).

 So long as we trace the development from its final outcome backwards, the chain of events appears continuous, and we feel we have gained an insight which is completely satisfactory or even exhaustive. But if we proceed in the reverse way, if we start from the premises inferred from the analysis and try to follow these up to the final results, then we no longer get the impression of an inevitable sequence of events which could not have otherwise been determined. (p. 167)

In elucidating how each idea and methodological advance became a stepping stone for the next, my retrospective account of the origins of attachment theory makes the process of theory building seem planful and orderly. No doubt this was the case to some extent, but it may often not have seemed so to the protagonists at the time.

ORIGINS

John Bowlby

After graduating from the University of Cambridge in 1928, where he received rigorous scientific training and some instruction in what is now called developmental psychology, Bowlby performed volunteer work at a school for maladjusted children while reconsidering his career goals. His experiences with two children at the school set his professional life on course. One was a very isolated, remote, affectionless teenager who had been expelled from his previous school for theft and had had no stable mother figure. The second child was an anxious boy of 7 or 8 who trailed Bowlby around and who was known as his shadow (Ainsworth, 1974). Persuaded by this experience of the effects of early family relationships on personality development, Bowlby decided to embark on a career as a child psychiatrist (Senn, 1977h).

Concurrently with his studies in medicine and psychiatry, Bowlby undertook training at the British Psychoanalytic Institute. During this period Melanie Klein was a major influence there (the institute had three groups: Group A sided with Freud, Group B sided with Klein, and the Middle Group sided with neither). Bowlby was exposed to Kleinian (Klein, 1932) ideas through his training analyst, Joan Riviere, a close associate of Klein, and eventually through supervision by Melanie Klein herself. Although he acknowledges Riviere and Klein for grounding him in theobject-relations approach to psychoanalysis, with its emphasis on early relationships and the pathogenic potential of loss (Bowlby, 1969, p. xvii), he had grave reservations about aspects of the Kleinian approach to child psychoanalysis. Klein held that children’s emotional problems are almost entirely due to fantasies generated from internal conflict between aggressive and libidinal drives, rather than to events in the external world, She hence forbade Bowlby to talk to the mother of a 3-year-old whom he analyzed under her supervision (Bowlby, 1987). This was anathema to Bowlby who, in the course of his postgraduate training with two psychoanalytically trained social workers at the London Child Guidance Clinic, had come to believe that actual family experiences were a much more important, if not the basic, cause of emotional disturbance.

Bowlby’s plan to counter Klein’s ideas through research is manifest in an early theoretical paper (1940) in which he proposed that, like nurserymen, psychoanalysts should study the nature of the organism, the properties of the soil, and their interaction (p. 23). He goes on to suggest that, for mothers with parenting difficulties,

a weekly interview in which their problems are approached analytically and traced hack to childhood has sometimes been remarkably effective. Having once been helped to recognize and recapture the feelings which she herself had as a child and to find that they are accepted tolerantly and understandingly, a mother will become increasingly sympathetic and tolerant toward the same things in her child. (Bowlby, 1940, p. 23)

These quotations reveal Bowlby’s early theoretical and clinical interest in the intergenerational transmission of attachment relations and in the possibility of helping children by helping parents. Psychoanalytic object-relations theories later proposed by Fairbain (1952) and Winnicott (1965) were congenial to Bowlby, hut his thinking had developed independently of them.

Bowlby’s first empirical study, based on case notes from the London Child Guidance Clinic, dates from this period. Like the boy at the school for maladjusted children, many of the clinic patients were affectionless and prone to stealing. Through detailed examination of 44 cases, Bowlby was able to link their symptoms to histories of maternal deprivation and separation.

Although World War II led to an interruption in Bowlby’s budding career as a practicing child psychiatrist, it laid further groundwork for his career as a researcher. His assignment was to collaborate on officer selection procedures with a group of distinguished colleagues from the Tavistock Clinic in London, an experience that gave Bowlby a level of methodological andstatistical expertise then unusual for a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. This training is obvious in the revision of his paper, “Forty-Four Juvenile Thieves: Their Characters and Home Lives” (Bowlby, 1944), which includes statistical tests as well as detailed case histories.

At the end of World War II, Bowlby was invited to become head of the Children’s Department at the Tavistock Clinic. In line with his earlier ideas on the importance of family relationships in child therapy, he promptly renamed it the Department for Children and Parents. Indeed, in what is credited as the first published paper in family therapy, Bowlby (1949) describes how he was often able to achieve clinical breakthroughs by interviewing parents about their childhood experiences in the presence of their troubled children.

To Bowlby’s chagrin, however, much of the clinical work in the department was done by people with a Kleinian orientation, who, he says, regarded his emphasis on actual family interaction patterns as not particularly relevant. He therefore decided to found his own research unit whose efforts were focused on mother-child separation. Because separation is a clear-cut and undeniable event, its effects on the child and the parent- child relationship were easier to document than more subtle influences of parental and familial interaction.

Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth (nee Salter), 6 years younger than Bowlby, finished graduate study at the University of Toronto just before World War II. courses with William Blatz had introduced her to security theory (Blatz, 1940), which both reformulated and challenged Freudian ideas, though Blatz chose not to recognize his debt to Freud because of the anti-Freudian climate that pervaded the University of Toronto at that time (Ainsworth, 1983; Blatz, 1966).

One of the major tenets of security theory is that infants and young children need to develop a secure dependence on parents before launching out into unfamiliar situations. In her dissertation, entitled “An Evaluation of Adjustment Based Upon the Concept of Security,” Mary Salter (1940) states it this way:

Familial security in the early stages is of a dependent type and forms a basis from which the individual can work out gradually, forming new skills and interests in other fields. Where familial security is lacking, the individual is handicapped by the lack o~ what might be called a secure base italics added from which to work. (p. 45)

Interestingly, Mary Salter’s dissertation research included an analysis of students’ autobiographical narratives in support of the validity of her paper-and-pencil self-report scales of familial and extrafamilial security, foreshadowing her later penchant for narrative methods of data collection. Indeed, few researchers realize the enormous experience in instrument development and diagnostics she brought to attachment research.

Like Bowlby’s, Mary Salter’s professional career was shaped by her duties as a military officer during World War 11 (in the Canadian Women’s Army corps). After the war, as a faculty member at the University of Toronto, she set out to deepen her clinical skills in response to the request to teach courses in personality assessment. To prepare herself for this task, she signed up for workshops by Bruno Klopfer, a noted expert in the interpretation of the Rorschach test. This experience led to a coauthored book on the Rorschach technique (Klopfer, Ainsworth, Klopfer, & Holt, 1954), which is still in print.

In 1950, Mary Salter married Leonard Ainsworth and accompanied him to London, where he completed his doctoral studies. Someone there drew her attention to a job advertisement in the London Times that happened to involve research, under the direction of John Bowlby, into the effect on personality development of separation from the mother in early childhood. As Mary Ainsworth acknowledges, joining Bowlby’s research unit reset the whole direction of her professional career, though neither Bowlby nor Ainsworth realized this at the time.

THE EMERGENCE OF ATTACHMENT THEORY

In 1948, 2 years before Ainsworth’s arrival, Bowlby had hired James Robertson to help him observe hospitalized and institutionalized children who were separated from their parents. Robertson had had impeccable training in naturalistic observation, obtained as a conscientious objector during World War II, when he was employed as a boilerman in Anna Freud’s Hampstead residential nursery for homeless children. Anna Freud required that all members of the staff, no matter what their training or background, write notes on cards about the children’s behavior (Senn, l977a), which were then used as a basis for weekly group discussions. The thorough training in child observation that Robertson thus obtained at the Hampstead residential nursery is Anna Freud’s lasting personal contribution to the development of attachment theory.

After 2 years of collecting data on hospitalized children for Bowlby’s research projects,Robertson protested that he could not continue as an uninvolved research worker, but felt compelled to do something for the children he had been observing. On a shoestring budget, with minimal training, a hand-held cinecamera, and no artificial lighting, he made the deeply moving film, A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital (Robertson, 1 953a, 1953b; Robertson & Bowlby, 1952). Foreseeing the potential impact of this film, Bowlby insisted that it be carefully planned to ensure that no one would later he able to accuse Robertson of biased recording. The target child was randomly selected, and the hospital clock on the wall served as proof that time sampling took place at regular periods of the day. Together with Spitz’s (1947) film, Grief: A Peril in Infancy, Robertson’s first film helped improve the fate of hospitalized children all over the Western world, even though it was initially highly controversial among the medical establishment.

When Mary Ainsworth arrived at Bowlby’s research unit late in 1950, others working there (besides James Robertson) were Mary Boston and Dina Rosenbluth. Rudolph Schaffer, whose subsequent attachment research is well known (Schaffer & Emerson, 1964), joined the group somewhat later, as did Christoph Heinicke (1956; Heinicke & Westheimer, 1966), who undertook additional separation and reunion studies, and Tony Ambrose (1961), who was interested in early social behavior. Mary Ainsworth, who was charged with analyzing James Robertson’s data, was tremendously impressed with his records of children’s behavior and decided that she would emulate his methods of naturalistic observation were she ever to undertake a study of her own (Ainsworth, 1983).

At this time, Bowlby’s earlier writings about the familial experiences of affectionless children had led Ronald Hargreaves of the World Health Organization (WHO) to commission him to write a report on the mental health of homeless children in postwar Europe. Preparation of the WHO report gave Bowlby an opportunity to pick the brains of many practitioners and researchers across Europe and the United States who were concerned with the effects of maternal separation and deprivation on young children, including Spitz (1946) and Goldfarb (1943, 1945). The report was written in 6 months and translated into 14 languages, with sales of 400,000 copies in the English paperback edition; it was published in 1951 as Maternal Care and Mental Health by the WHO. A second edition, entitled Child Care and the Growth of Love, with review chapters by Mary Ainsworth, was published by Penguin Books in 1965

It is interesting to examine the 1951 report from today’s perspective. At that time Bowlby still used the terminology of traditional psychoanalysis (love object, libidinal ties, ego, and superego), hut his ideas were little short of heretical, Perhaps following Spitz, he used embryology as a metaphor to portray the maternal role in child development:

If growth is to proceed smoothly, the tissues must he exposed to the influence of the appropriate organizer at certain critical periods. In the same way, ~f mental development is to proceed smoothly, it would appear to he necessary for the undifferentiated psyche to be exposed during certain critical periods to the influence of the psychic organizer- the mother. (Bowlby, 1951, p. 53)

Then, seemingly doing away with the idea that the superego has its origin in the resolution of the Oedipus complex, Bowlby claims that during the early years, while the child acquires the capacity for self-regulation, the mother is a child’s ego and superego:

It is not surprising that during infancy and early childhood these functions are either not operating at all or are doing so most imperfectly. During this phase of life, the child is therefore dependent on his mother performing them for him. She orients him in space and time, provides his environment, permits the satisfaction of some impulses, restricts others. She is his ego and his super-ego. Gradually he learns these arts himself, and as he does, the skilled parent transfers the roles to him. This is a slow, subtle and continuous process, beginning when he first learns to walk and feed himself, and not ending completely until maturity is reached. . . . Ego and super-ego development are thus inextricably hound up with the child’s primary human relationships. (Bowlby, 1951, p. 53)

This sounds more Vygotskian than Freudian. Moreover, despite his disagreements with Kleinian therapy, I detect remnants of Kleinian ideas in Bowlby’s discussions of children’s violent fantasies on returning to parents after a prolonged separation and “the intense depression that humans experience as a result of hating the person they most dearly love and need” (Bowlby, 1951, p. 57).

Bowlby’s major conclusion, grounded in the available empirical evidence, was that to grow up mentally healthy, “the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment” (Bowlby, 1951, p. 13). Later summaries often overlook the reference to the substitute mother and to the partners’ mutual enjoyment. They also neglect Bowlby’s emphasis on the role of social networks and on economic as well as health factors in the development of well-functioning mother-child relationships. His call to society to provide supportfor parents is still not heeded today:

Just as children are absolutely dependent on their parents for sustenance, so in all hut the most primitive communities, are parents, especially their mothers, dependent on a greater society for economic provision. If a community values its children it must cherish their parents. (Bowlby, 1951, p. 84)

True to the era in which the WHO report was written, Bowlby emphasized the female parent. In infancy, he comments, fathers have their uses, but normally play second fiddle to mother. Their prime role is to provide emotional support to their wives’ mothering.

The proposition that, to thrive emotionally, children need a close and continuous caregiving relationship called for a theoretical explanation. Bowlby was not satisfied with the then current psychoanalytic view that love of mother derives from sensuous oral gratification, nor did he agree with social learning theory’s claim that dependency is based on secondary reinforcement (a concept that was itself derived from psychoanalytic ideas). Like Spitz (1946) and Erikson (1950), Bowlby had latched onto the concept of critical periods in embryological development and was casting about for similar phenomena at the behavioral level when, through a friend, he happened upon an English translation of Konrad Lorenz’s (1935) paper on imprinting.

From then on, Bowlby began to mine ethology for useful new concepts. Lorenz’s (1935) account of imprinting in geese and other precocial birds especially intrigued him, because it suggested that social bond formation need not be tied to feeding. In addition, he favored ethological methods of observing animals in their natural environment, because this approach was so compatible with the methods Robertson had already developed at the Tavistock research unit.

One notable talent that stood Bowlby in great stead throughout his professional life was his ability to draw to himself outstanding individuals who were willing and able to help him acquire expertise in new fields of inquiry that he needed to master in the service of theory building To learn more about ethology, Bowlby contacted Robert Hinde, under whose “generous and stern guidance” (see Bowlby, 1980b, p. 650) he mastered ethological principles to help him find new ways of thinking about infant mother attachment. Conversely, Hinde’s fascinating studies of individual differences in separation and reunion behaviors of group-living rhesus mother infant dyads (Hinde & Spencer-Booth, 1967) were inspired by the contact with Bowlby and his co-workers (Hinde, 1991).

Bowlby’s first ethological paper appeared in 1953. Somewhat surprisingly, however, various empirical papers on the effects of separation, published with his own research team during the very same period, show little trace of Bowlby’s new thinking, because his colleagues were unconvinced that ethology was relevant to the mother-child relationship (Bowlby, personal communication, October 1986). Even Mary Ainsworth, though much enamored of ethology, was somewhat wary of the direction Bowlby’s theorizing had begun to take. It was obvious to her, she said, that a baby loves his mother because she satisfies his needs (Ainsworth, personal communication, January 1992), A collaborative paper dating from this period (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Boston, & Rosenbluth, 1956) is nevertheless important, because it prefigures later work on patterns of attachment by Ainsworth. Her contribution to the paper was a system for classifying three basic relationship patterns in school-age children who had been reunited with parents after prolonged sanatorium stays: those with strong positive feelings toward their mothers; those with markedly ambivalent relationships; and a third group with nonexpressive, indifferent, or hostile relationships with mother.

THE FORMULATION OF ATTACHMENT THEORY AND THE FIRST ATTACHMENT STUDY

Theoretical Formulations

Bowlby’s first formal statement of attachment theory, building on concepts from ethology and developmental psychology, was presented to the British Psychoanalytic Society in London in three now classic papers: “The Nature of the Child’s Tie to His Mother” (1958), “Separation Anxiety” (1959), and “Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood” (1960). By 1962 Bowlby had completed two further papers (never published; 1962 a and b) on defensive processes related to mourning. These five papers represent the first basic blueprint of attachment theory.

The Nature of the Child’s Tie to His Mother

This paper reviews and then rejects those contemporary psychoanalytic explanations for the child’s libidinal tie to the mother in which need satisfaction is seen as primary and attachment as secondary or derived. Borrowing from Freud’s (1905/1953) notion that mature human sexuality is built up of component instincts, Bowlby proposed that I 2-month-olds’ unmistakable attach-ment behavior is made up of a number of component instinctual responses that have the function of binding the infant to the mother and the mother to the infant. These component responses (among them sucking, clinging, and following, as well as the signaling behaviors of smiling and crying) mature relatively independently during the first year of life and become increasingly integrated and focused on a mother figure during the second 6 months. Bowlby saw clinging and following as possibly more important for attachment than sucking and crying.

To buttress his arguments, Bowlby reviewed data from existing empirical studies of infants’ cognitive and social development, including those of Piaget (1951, 1954), with whose ideas he had become acquainted during a series of meetings by the ‘Psychobiology of the Child” study group, organized by the same Ronald I Hargreaves at the World Health Organization who had commissioned Bowlby’s 1951 report. These informative meetings, also attended by Erik Erikson, Julian Huxley, Baerbel Inhelder, Konrad Lorenz, Margaret Mead, and Ludwig von Bertalanffy, took place between 1953 and 1956. (Proceedings were published by Tavistock Publications.) For additional evidence, Bowlby drew on many years of experience as weekly facilitator of a support group for young mothers in London.

After his careful discussion of infant development, Bowlby introduced ethological concepts, such as sign stimuli or social releasers that “cause” specific responses to he activated and shut off or terminated (see Tinbergen, 1951). These stimuli could he external or intrapsychic, an important point in view of the fact that some psychoanalysts accused Bowlby of behaviorism because he supposedly ignored mental phenomena. Bowlby also took great pains to draw a clear distinction between the old social learning theory concept of dependency and the new concept of attachment, noting that attachment is not indicative of regression, hut rather performs a natural, healthy function even in adult life.

Bowlby’s new instinct theory raised quite a storm at the British Psychoanalytic Society. Even Bowlby’s own analyst, Joan Riviere, protested. Anna Freud, who missed the meeting but read the paper, politely wrote:

“Dr. Bowlby is too valuable a person to get lost to psychoanalysis” (Grosskurth, 1987).

Separation Anxiety

The second seminal paper (Bowlby, 1959) builds on observations by Robertson (1953b) and Heinicke (1956; later elaborated as Heinicke & Westheimer, 1966), as well as on Harlow and Zimmermann’s (1958) groundbreaking work on the effects of maternal deprivation in rhesus monkeys. Traditional theory, Bowlby claims, can explain neither the intense attachment of infants and young children to a mother figure nor their dramatic responses to separation.

Robertson (Robertson & Bowlby, 1952) had identified three phases of separation response: protest (related to separation anxiety), despair (related to grief and mourning), and denial or detachment (related to defence mechanisms, especially repression). Again drawing on ethological concepts regarding the control of behavior, Bowlby maintained that infants and children experience separation anxiety when a situation activates both escape and attachment behavior hut an attachment figure is not available.

The following quote explains, in part, why some psychoanalytic colleagues called Bowlby a behaviorist: “for to have a deep attachment for a person (or a place or thing) is to have taken them as the terminating object of our instinctual responses” (Bowlby, 1959, p. 13). The oddity of this statement derives from mixing, in the same sentence, experiential language (to have a deep attachment) with explanatory language representing an external observer’s point of view (the attachment figure as the terminating object).

In this paper, Bowlby also took issue with Freud’s claim that maternal overgratification is a danger in infancy. Freud failed to realize, says Bowlby, that maternal pseudo-affection and overprotection may derive from a mother’s overcompensation for unconscious hostility. In Bowlby’s view, excessive separation anxiety is due to adverse family experiences-such as repeated threats of abandonment or rejection by parents-or to a parent’s or sibling’s illness or death for which the child feels responsible.

Bowlby also pointed out that, in some cases, separation anxiety can be excessively low or be altogether absent, giving an erroneous impression of maturity. He attributes pseudoindependence under these conditions to defensive processes. A well-loved child, he claims, is quite likely to protest separation from parents but will later develop more self-reliance, These ideas reemerged later in Ainsworth’s classifications of ambivalent, avoidant, and secure patterns of infant-mother attachment (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978).

Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood

In the third, most controversial paper, Bowlby (1960) questioned Anna Freud’s contention that bereaved infants cannot mourn because of insufficient ego development and therefore experience nothing more than brief bouts of separation anxiety if an adequate substitute caregiver is available. In contrast, Bowlby (citing Marris, 1958) claimed that grief and mourning processes in children and adults appear whenever attachment behaviors are activated but the attachment figure continues to he unavailable. He also suggested that an inability to form deep relationships with others may result when the succession of substitutes is too frequent.

As with the first paper, this paper also drew strong objections from many members of the British Psychoanalytic Society. One analyst is said to have exclaimed: “Bowlby? Give me Barrabas” (Grosskurth, 1987). Controversy also accompanied the published version of this paper in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Unbeknownst to Bowlby, rejoinders had been invited from Anna Freud (1960), Max Schur (1960), and René Spitz (1960), all of whom protested various aspects of Bowlby’s revision of Freudian theory. Spitz ended his rejoinder by saying:

When submitting new theories we should not violate the principle of parsimony in science by offering hypotheses which in contrast to existing theory becloud the observational facts, are oversimplified, and make no contribution to the better understanding of observed phenomena. (p. 93)

Despite this concerted attack, Bowlby remained a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society for the rest of his life, although he never again used it as a forum for discussing his ideas. At a meeting of the society in memory of John Bowlby, Eric Rayner (1991) expressed his regret at this turn of events:

What seems wrong is when a theorist extols his own view by rubbishing others; Bowlby received this treatment. . . . Our therapeutic frame of mind is altered by theory. John Bowlby was a great alterer of frames of mind.

Bowlby’s controversial paper on mourning attracted the attention of Colin Parkes, now well known for his research on adult bereavement. Parkes saw the relevance of Bowlby’s and Robertson’s work on mourning in infancy and childhood for gaining insight into the process of adult grief. On joining Bowlby’s research unit at the Tavistock Institute in 1962, Parkes set out to study a nonclinical group of widows in their homes to chart the course of nominal adult grief, about which little was known at the time, The findings led to a joint paper with Bowlby (Bowlby& Parkes, 1970) in which the phases of separation response delineated by Robertson for young children were elaborated into four phases of grief during adult life: (a) numbness, (h) yearning and protest, (c) disorganization and despair, and (d) reorganization (see also Parkes, 1972).

Before the publication of the 1970 paper, Parkes had visited Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in Chicago, who was then gathering data for her influential book On Death and Dying (1978). The phases of dying described in her book (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) owe much to Bowlby’s and Robertson’s thinking. Bowlby also introduced Parkes to the founder of the modern hospice movement, Cicely Saunders. Saunders and Parkes used attachment theory and research in developing programs for the emotional care of the dying and bereaved, What they found particularly helpful in countering negative attitudes to the dying and bereaved was the concept of grief as a process toward attaining a new identity, rather than as a state (Parkes, personal communication, November 1989).

The First Empirical Study of Attachment: Infancy in Uganda

Let us now return to Mary Ainsworth’s work. In late 1953, she had left the Tavistock Clinic, obviously quite familiar with Bowlby’s thinking about ethology hut not convinced of its value for understanding infant- mother attachment. The Ainsworths were headed for Uganda, where Leonard Ainsworth had obtained a position at the East African Institute of Social Research at Kampala. With help from the same institute, Mary Ainsworth was able to scrape together funds for an observational study, but not before writing Bowlby a letter in which she called for empirical validation of his ethological notions (Ainsworth, January 1992, personal communication),

Inspired by her analyses of Robertson’s data, Ainsworth had initially planned an investigation of toddlers’ separation responses during weaning, but it soon became obvious that the old tradition of sending the child away “to forget the breast” had broken down. She therefore decided to switch gears and observe the development of infant-mother attachment.

As soon as she began her data collection, Ainsworth was struck by the pertinence of Bowlby’s ideas, Hence, the first study of infant-mother attachment from an ethological perspective was undertaken several years before the publication of the three seminal papers in which Bowlby (1958, 1959, 1960) laid out attachment theory.

Ainsworth recruited 26 families with unweaned babies (ages 1 - 24 months) whom she observed every 2 weeks for 2 hours per visit over a period of up to 9 months. Visits (with an interpreter) took place in the family living room, where Ganda women generally entertain in the afternoon. Ainsworth was particularly interested in determining the onset of proximity-promoting signals and behaviors, noting carefully when these signals and behaviors became preferentially directed toward the mother.

On leaving Uganda in 1955, the Ainsworths moved to Baltimore, where Mary Ainsworth began work as a diagnostician and part-time clinician at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, further consolidating her already considerable assessment skills. At the same time, she taught clinical and developmental courses at the Johns Hopkins University, where she was initially hired as a lecturer. Because of her involvement in diagnostic work and teaching, the data from the Ganda project lay fallow for several years.www.psychspace.com心理学空间网

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