Attachment and Loss - Vol. 3

Attachment and Loss - Vol. 3

Attachment and Loss - Vol. 3

Attachment and Loss - Vol. 3

Excerpt

This is the third and final volume of a work that explores the implications for the psychology and psychopathology of personality of the ways in which young children respond to a temporary or permanent loss of mother-figure. The circumstances in which the enquiry was launched are described in the prefaces to the earlier volumes. The overall strategy, which entails approaching the classic problems of psychoanalysis prospectively, is presented in the first chapter of the first volume. It can be summarized as follows--the primary data are observations of how young children behave in defined situations; in the light of these data an attempt is made to describe certain early phases of personality functioning and, from them, to extrapolate forwards. In particular the aim is to describe certain patterns of response that occur regularly in early childhood and, thence, to trace out how similar patterns of response are to be discerned in the later functioning of the personality.

There are many reasons why my initial frame of reference was, and has in many respects remained, that of psychoanalysis. Not the least is that, when the enquiry began, psychoanalysis was the only behavioural science that was giving systematic attention to the phenomena and concepts that seemed central to my task--affectional bonds, separation anxiety, grief and mourning, unconscious mental processes, defence, trauma, sensitive periods in early life. Yet there are many ways in which the theory advanced here has come to differ from the classical theories advanced by Freud and elaborated by his followers. In particular I have drawn heavily on the findings and ideas of two disciplines, ethology and control theory, that existed only in germinal form at the end of Freud's life. In this volume, moreover, I draw on recent work in cognitive psychology and human information processing in an attempt to clarify problems of defence. As a result the frame of reference now offered for understanding personality development and psychopathology amounts to a new paradigm and is thus alien to clinicians long used . . .

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