Attachment Theory: Bowlby to Current Theory and Practice – Workshop Materials

Attachment theory: Bowlby to current theory and practice
Workshop Materials

MarroneI don’t usually attempt to introduce sessions; but in this case I am going to make an exception, in an attempt to provide some background and context.

By any measure, John Bowlby made a unique contribution to the understanding of human development.  This is the year of the twenty fifth anniversary of his death.

On his last visit to Mindsite, Sir Richard Bowlby gave a unique insight into his father’s work, and a personal testament to his deep humanity.  A good introduction is provided in Sir Richard’s Winnicott lecture – Fifty years of attachment theory.  In this lecture, he also talks about the unpopularity of the underlying message in a world of growing affluence, ever increasing expectations and equal opportunities.

To view Sir Richards Introduction to attachment theory, click below.  Because of restrictions on the player I have split it into two parts:

Bowlby’s legacy exists in a number of forms.  First and foremost is his written work – notably the trilogy Attachment, Separation and Loss (1987, 1988a 1998b).  However, this is supplemented by the work of those that he inspired.  These include:

  • Mary Ainsworth – A psychologist who developed the Strange situation (SSP), an observation protocol to determine the attachment style of toddlers.
  • Mary Main – A psychologist who developed the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), a semi-structured interview process to determine the attachment style of adults
  • Colin Murray Parkes – A psychiatrist and leading expert on bereavement
  • Allan Schore – A neurobiologist and innovative researcher in the field of epigenetics, which is revealing new ways in which very early attachment relationships from the third trimester of pregnancy to the second year of life influence the development of the human brain
  • Alan Sroufe – A psychologist whose Minnisota study (2005) is almost certainly the largest, longest and richest longitudinal study of the development of the person.
  • And many, many others

In this workshop, we are concerned with the application of attachment theory to therapy.  While Bowlby was a psychoanalyst, he was never well received in the psychoanalytic world.  He was a medical doctor by background, who qualified as a psychoanalyst in 1937.  We know from a number of sources that his training was a turbulent process, in which his training analyst was Joan Riviere and his clinical supervisor Melanie Klein.  Shortly after came World War Two, the death of Freud and the Controversial Discussions, which took place between October 1942 and February 1944.  These dramatic meetings were the setting for a bitter struggle for control within the British Psychoanalytical Society.  The outcome was that the BPS ultimately held together, but split into three groups.  In amongst all of this was the emergence of object relations theory, which challenged Freud’s theory of motivation based on drives or instincts.  In summary, it was not the most fertile ground for Bowlby’s contribution, which challenged established figures and ideas; and was compounded by his insistence that conclusions from clinical practice should be backed by research that was frequently conducted by non-analysts.

The theoretical importance of Bowlby’s work seems to have been lost in the unseemly squabbles, in which many writers have detected hints of pathology.  Some analysts such as Kohut and Sandler have suggested that the choice between the drive/instinct theory of motivation and object relations is not either/or and that they can co-exist (Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983).  Bowlby’s contribution to the debate was to suggest that attachment or love was also a drive, and an evolutionarily adaptive human need.  However, it was one that was was more complex than anything conceived of by Freud.

I hope this provides some background to Dr Marrone’s workshop.  To download the programme for the day click here  .  To download the presentations that will be used, click below:

Manchester 1 – Sept 2015
Manchester 2 – Sept 2015
Manchester 3 – Sept 2015

There is no need to read these in advance or to bring copies.

Travel arrangements are given on the website, and there is adequate parking on the street outside or near to the venue.  Please try to ensure that you do not park illegally or on the pavement, since traffic wardens operate in the area.

We look forward to meeting you on 18th.

Best wishes,

George MacDonald


Bowlby, John. (1988). A secure base. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Bowlby, John. (1997). Attachment and loss: Attachment (Vol. 1). London: Pimlico.

Bowlby, John. (1998a). Attachment and loss: Loss (Vol. 3). London: Pimlico.

Bowlby, John. (1998b). Attachment and loss: Separation (Vol. 2). London: Pimlico.

Bowlby, Richard, & King, Pearl. (2004). Fifty years of attachment theory: The Donald Winnicott Memorial Lecture given by Sir Richard Bowlby. London: Karnac.

Cortina, Mauricio, & Marrone, Mario (Eds.). (2003). Attachment theory and the psychoanalytic process. London: Whurr.

Diamond, Nicola, & Marrone, Mario. (2003). Attachment and intersubjectivity. London: Whurr.

Greenberg, Jay R., & Mitchell, Stephen A. (1983). Object relations in psychoanalytic theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Holmes, Jeremy. (2001). The search for the secure base : attachment theory and psychotherapy. Hove, East Sussex ; Philadelphia, PA: Brunner-Routledge.

Marrone, Mario. (2011). Attachment theory: Fundamental principles. Presentation.

Marrone, Mario, & Diamond, Nicola. (2014). Attachment and Interaction: From Bowlby to current clinical theory and practice (2nd ed.). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Parkes, Colin Murray. (1970). “Seeking” and “finding” a lost object: Evidence from recent studies of the reaction to bereavement. Soc Sci Med, 4(2), 187-201.

Parkes, Colin Murray. (1972). Bereavement studies of grief in adult life. New York, NY: International Universities Press.

Parkes, Colin Murray. (1991). Attachment, bonding, and psychiatric problems after bereavement in adult life. In C. M. Parkes, J. Stevenson-Hinde & P. Marris (Eds.), Attachment across the life cycle. Hove: Routledge.

Parkes, Colin Murray. (2006). Love and loss: The roots of grief and its complications. Hove Routledge.

Parkes, Colin Murray, Laungani, Pittu, & Young, Bill (Eds.). (1997). Death and bereavement across cultures. London: Routledge.

Sroufe, L. Alan, Egeland, Byron, Carlson, El

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