Treating Attachment Disorders: From Theory to Therapy

Treating Attachment Disorders: From Theory to Therapy

Treating Attachment Disorders: From Theory to Therapy

Treating Attachment Disorders: From Theory to Therapy

Synopsis

Attachment theory and research have greatly enhanced our understanding of the role of parent-child relationships in the development of psychopathology. Yet until now, little has been written on how an attachment perspective can be used to actively inform psychotherapeutic practice. In this invaluable work, Karl Heinz Brisch presents an attachment-oriented framework for assessing and treating patients of all ages. Illuminated are the ways that early experiences of separation and loss can lead to a range of psychological, behavioral, and psychosomatic problems, and how these can be addressed in the context of a healing therapeutic relationship. Bridging a longstanding divide between the seminal work of John Bowlby and the concepts and methods of psychodynamic therapy, the book is richly illustrated with evocative clinical material.

Excerpt

In all psychotherapeutic work, whether it be with infants and their parents, with toddlers, children, or adolescents, or with adults, we confront the question of how to make sense of particular psychological symptoms. Today all psychotherapeutic schools, whatever their orientation, attribute to childhood a crucial role in the development of psychopathology (Kächele, Buchheim, & Brisch, 1999; Resch, 1996).

Psychoanalytic theories have derived from material gathered in the treatment of adult patients. The psychodynamic relationships that were discovered in the course of therapy pointed to stages of development in early childhood that were important for psychological development. The resulting theory has been called “adultopathomorphic,” in that pathological symptoms in the adult were understood and interpreted as regressions to early childhood phases that were part of normal development. The concepts of “infantile regression” and “fixation to early developmental phases” played a very important role. In his early years, Freud still placed the importance of actual seductions in the foreground of his theory: actual early sexual abuses of children by those closest to them, including parents, were viewed by him as experiences traumatic to the child's psyche. He later distanced himself from this view and postulated that the sexual abuse recalled in adult analyses represented childhood fantasies. Freud never expressly explained why he changed his position, but he subsequently gave fantasy priority in psychic development.

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