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 FOREWORD ON THE THEORY OF ATTACHMENT


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The articles on this section take for granted the ocassional reader has studied and grasped the very basics of Attachment Theory, whereby I mean they have studied and learned John Bowlby's and Mary Ainswoth's writings in depth. Nevertheless, If you do not belong in this category, you are encouraged to read on, just in case what you find in this section of the Attachment Research Center home page encourages you to keep deepening on these issues we deem crucial for human beings' survival and mental health.

I f you are interested further and want to resort to germane bibliography to these theories about socio-emotial development, please don't hesitate to write to us by clicking here.

Just by this time, Attachment Theory is no longer what it used to be 30 years ago. Dozens of founding tenets have been arbitrarily replaced by beliefs akin to our irrational times. Now I deem it impossible to overemphasize the fact that one cannot be both irrational and adhere to Bowlby's theory of affectional bonds.

We face the awkward situation to do our best to make people become aware that the so-called Attachment evolution is but a backtrack move to Pre-Bowlbyian times. As I don't think this is the best of places to discuss these issues at length, I simply wanted to lay emphasis on the fact that the so-called self-appointed Post-Bowlbyian "Modern Consensus" boils down to a circuituous way of deviating from Bowlby's rigorous stance about laborious adherence to the Scientific Methodology by adopting the speculative, armchair thinking of resorting to introspective instruments or tools, such as the AAI or others, which by the simple expedient of interviewing an adult for a few hours, direct observations of child-environment interactions can be dispensed with. I will elaborate at length on this important issue in another document that will soon be added to the Attachment Research Center Home Page.

We will be filling up the gaps as regards the evolution of Attachment Theory and its associate disclplines: A Darwinian approach to development, and the firm and rigorous observance of the Scientific Method as applied to any other Science, by way of successive deliveries.

Contributions to the WWW page are welcome. Please e-mail them to Juan Carlos Garelli <garelli@attach.edu.ar> or Eliana Montuori <eliana@attach.edu.ar>


More about Bowlby and the so-called "Modern Consensus"
by
Juan Carlos Garelli, M.D., Ph.D.


I  have never heard of a psychological theory that can escape the gauntlet of advancing a theory of Psychic Development. Those in vogue ever since Freud stubbornly insist in seeing the infant as hopelessly handicapped to get in touch with the outside world. Particularly with distinct, preferred persons in close contact with the infant, which we generically call "mother·".

According to Freud and his followers, the infant faces serious problems trying to make out itself from the other, or others.They assert he feels as though the external world did not exist. Margaret Mahler, the champion of this trend of undiscrimination between self and other, even talks about a "phase of normal autism and normal symbiosis" which would last for at least a year; that's why her book is entitled The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant, as though we humans were doomed to go through two distinct births, a biological birth, whereupon we prove to be dependent, hallucinatory, indiscriminate, autistic, symbiotic, paranoid, schizoid, and so on. It seems as though one were being described a serious psychopathological condition. Under such dire settings, communication with an infant proves impossible, hence socializing with an infant would have to be postponed till he overcomes those so-called early developmental stages and becomes a more or less tractable child. One is amazed at the extraordinary luck we humans posses having been able to make it through the hazards of evolution with such seriously handicapped offspring: mothers in the Pleistocene must have been supermothers, especially taking into account no Early Stimulation Treatments were available at the time.

After the advent of the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby, infants reivindicated their rights to be seen as humans, even as healthy humans. Just by the simple expedient of taking a look at how infants behaved. One of the most impressive discoveries was that contrary to what everybody asserted, infants were ONLY interested in socializing from birth onwards. Categorial proof of the innate trend to socializing in infants came through when Bowlby decided to study EARLY SEPARATIONS. When an infant is separated from his mother for a short period, he indergoes a series of stages which go from protesting, through despair, to recoiling into himself as the outer world did not matter anymore (as if he considered he had lost mother for ever). The rest of Bowlby's work, with the addition of Mary Ainsworth's Strange Situation opened up a pathway of unpredictable dimensions for Early Developmental Researchers: now they did have a good theoretical framework to work under.

The Attachment Research Center has always followed that very policy: stick to empirical basis, or direct observation, do not take anything for granted, not even Bowlby's theory of attachment, a multidisciplinary approach (Attachment theorizing, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, ethology, scientific methodology and epistemology, information processing, updated cybernetics, and so on, form the bulk of the basis we feel we must be trained in to start even talking about Infants, about mother-infant interactions. about the subjective world of the infant, and so on). That is why we deplore relying on introspection to carry out either research programs or simple diagnostics. Instrospection leading to retrospective speculations about how an adult must have been treated by his parents harks the specialty back to Pre-Bowlbyian times.

Our endeavor focusses on the Bowlbyian perspective, trying to refine and explore unexplored aspects of child development, such as how infants perceive the world, how they perceive us, their caregivers, or very early experiences such as the so-called period of alert inactivity which follows birth.

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