Attachment Theory

Article excerpt

Attachment Theory Attachment From Infancy to Adulthood: The Major Longitudinal Studies Klaus E Grossman, Karin Grossman, Everett Waters, editors. New York (NY): Guilford Press; 2005. 332 p. US$40.00.

Reviewer rating: Excellent

When a new scientific text lands on one's desk, a book whose contributors are authorities on the subject, one expects a certain level of enjoyment from reading it. However, to find such a book a delight to read is indeed rare. Nevertheless, this new text on attachment is a delight.

This is no ordinary review of longitudinal studies on attachment, some of which lasted long enough for children who contributed data while babies to have babies of their own. The way the 11 chapters, each by a leading authority on an aspect of attachment theory, are laid out is probably the secret to the ease with which the book is read. Each chapter starts with a biographical, highly individual account of how the authors found themselves interested and involved in the study of attachment. This provides insight into the minds and lives of these prominent researchers and a realistic perspective on the shaping of careers. The authors then continue to describe their lives' work in the field of attachment in an accessible, almost storytelling manner.

The book opens with a chapter by Robert Hinde that illuminates the role of ethology in the development of John Bowlby's ideas. It is a beautifully told, fascinating piece of history comparable to an account of how Darwin's theory came together and yet likely unfamiliar to most of the current generation of attachment researchers. This is followed by Inge Bretherton's account of how the development of the construct of the internal working model is played out in attachment theory and research.

The following 4 chapters deal with child development within and without family contexts. The chapter by L Alan Sroufe, Byron Egeland, Elizabeth Carlson, and W Andrew Collins tells how the longitudinal Minnesota Study of Risk and Adaptation From Birth to Adulthood contributed to the understanding of how events of later childhood and adolescence modify the impact of early attachment on later outcomes. This chapter ends with 2 elegant case stories that go a long way in demystifying the protective and risk factors early attachments may impose on long-term outcomes. Jay Belsky describes attachment research from an ecologic perspective, including nonmaternal care, and concludes by promoting a modern evolutionary view of attachment as a psychological mechanism sensitive to the caregiving conditions and with consequences for reproductive choices. Karin and Klaus E Grossmann with Heinz Kindler summarize 20 years of research on mother-infant bonds and their impact on later relationships in 2 longitudinal German studies. …