Attachment - Vol. 1

Attachment - Vol. 1

Attachment - Vol. 1

Attachment - Vol. 1


Y2K! The world waits anxiously to see what millennial mischief crops up. But at Basic Books the year 2000 is cause for celebration. Fifty years ago Basic was founded as a home for works by outstanding scholars on topics of wide importance and broad general interest. Over the years our authors have inspired and informed, pleased and provoked generations of readers; indeed, many Basic titles have changed the very culture from which they emerged.

To commemorate our fiftieth year, we are proudly reissuing a selection of our most distinguished books from the last half-century. Here, in brand new packages, with new introductions and editorial comments by leading contemporary figures, are ten exemplars of the intellectual vigor that is the hallmark of Basic Books: classic titles by John Bowlby, Sigmund Freud, Josef Breuer, Claude Levi-Strauss, James Q. Wilson, Clifford Geertz, and Michael Walzer. That books like these remain in print is itself a testament to their enduring value. By calling attention to their sustained presence we hope to introduce new readers to landmark works that will continue to roil cultural waters for decades to come.

Bowlby's magisterial trilogy analyzes the impact of attachment, separation, and loss, and this first volume focuses on the critical role of the bond between mother and infant in emotional development. Allan Schore, whose pioneering synthesis of neurobiology with attachment research has shown how the brain gets into the act, contributes a foreword that catapults Bowlby's legacy into the new millennium.


In 1956 when this work was begun I had no conception of what I was undertaking. At that time my object appeared a limited one, namely, to discuss the theoretical implications of some observations of how young children respond to temporary loss of mother. These observations had been made by my colleague, James Robertson, and together he and I were preparing them for publication. A discussion of their theoretical significance seemed desirable and was destined to form the second part of our book.

Events were to prove otherwise. As my study of theory progressed it was gradually borne in upon me that the field I had set out to plough so lightheartedly was no less than the one that Freud had started tilling sixty years earlier, and that it contained all those same rocky excrescences and thorny entanglements that he had encountered and grappled with—love and hate, anxiety and defence, attachment and loss. What had deceived me was that my furrows had been started from a corner diametrically opposite to the one at which Freud had entered and through which analysts have always followed. From a new viewpoint a familiar landscape can sometimes look very different. Not only had I been deceived in the first place, but subsequently progress has been slow. It has also, I believe, often been difficult for colleagues to understand what I am attempting. It may be of help, therefore, if I put my thinking in a historical perspective.

In 1950 I was asked by the World Health Organisation to advise on the mental health of homeless children. This assignment provided a valuable opportunity to meet with many of the leading workers in the field of child care and child psychiatry and to read the literature. As I wrote in the preface to the resulting report (1951), what struck me amongst those I met was the 'very high degree of agreement existing in regard to both the principles underlying the mental health of children and the practices by which it may be safeguarded'. In the first part of the report I presented evidence and formulated a principle: 'What is believed to be essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.