By Jean Mercer
This book explores a critical part of human life and emotional growth, our preference for familiar people and our emotional ties to them, often called attachment. The author defines attachment and related terms, discusses the history of the idea, and describes ways in which this aspect of emotional life can be measured. By stressing developmental change, the work examines the way attachment continues to alter from infancy into adulthood, as well as its influence on our social relationships. The importance of children's early social experiences with parents and other caregivers is emphasized, as are useful applications of attachment theory in childcare, adoption, divorce, and other practical situations. Outcomes of good and poor attachment experiences are discussed, and there is a chapter on the complicated question of attachment disorders. Popular beliefs about attachment are analyzed, including the assumptions often made by judges when making custody decisions. The final chapter deals with social changes that may actually alter common childhood attachment experiences and looks at some emerging ways of thinking about early emotional development.