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Psychology and Mental Health

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Attachment and loss

Author(s): Bowlby J

Abstract

Children’s hunger for mother-love and presence is as great as children’s hunger for food (Bowlby 1969, p. xiii). This position was maintained by John Bowlby and his colleagues, particularly James Robertson and later Mary Salter Ainsworth. This premise undergirded their compelling work on instinctive behavior and the ontogeny of human attachment.

Bowlby and his associates focused on disturbances and separations in the early relationships between young children and their primary caretakers, most often mothers or mother-surrogates. Whereas psychoanalytic theory at that time connected psychopathology more with child fantasy and the internal events or process of the child, Bowlby and his associates connected psychoneurosis and other forms of emotional disturbance in the child primarily with rather external events. Bowlby undertook training at the British Psychoanalytic Institute and received supervision from Melanie Klein. 

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