The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Origins of Attachment

Infant Research and Adult Treatment, 1st Edition

By Beatrice Beebe, Frank M. Lachmann


232 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment addresses the origins of attachment in mother-infant face-to-face communication. New patterns of relational disturbance in infancy are described. These aspects of communication are out of conscious awareness. They provide clinicians with new ways of thinking about infancy, and about nonverbal communication in adult treatment.

Utilizing an extraordinarily detailed microanalysis of videotaped mother-infant interactions at 4 months, Beatrice Beebe, Frank Lachmann, and their researchcollaboratorsprovide a more fine-grained and precise description of the process of attachment transmission. Second-by-second microanalysis operates like a social microscope and reveals more than can be grasped with the naked eye.

The book explores how, alongside linguistic content, the bodily aspect of communication is an essential component of the capacity to communicate and understand emotion. The moment-to-moment self- and interactive processes of relatedness documented in infant research form the bedrock of adult face-to-face communication and provide the background fabric for the verbal narrative in the foreground.

The Origins of Attachment is illustrated throughout with several case vignettes of adult treatment. Discussions by Carolyn Clement, Malcolm Slavin and E. Joyce Klein, Estelle Shane, Alexandra Harrison and Stephen Seligman show how the research can be used by practicing clinicians. This book details aspects of bodily communication between mothers and infants that will provide useful analogies for therapists of adults. It will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and graduate students.

Collaborators Joseph Jaffe, Sara Markese, Karen A. Buck, Henian Chen, Patricia Cohen, Lorraine Bahrick, Howard Andrews, Stanley Feldstein

DiscussantsCarolyn Clement, Malcolm Slavin, E. Joyce Klein, Estelle Shane, Alexandra Harrison, Stephen Seligman



"The study of how communication begins… included the wonderful range of non-verbal communication that is described by the authors. The subtleties and complexities of non-verbal communication are central to their work and the impact of infant research on psychoanalytic theory and practice… An excellent review of the breadth of current understanding of infant capcities is included… To sustain a dyadic systems point of view, to describe both and one at a time, or in Beebe and Lachmann's terms, self-regulation and interactive regulation, is nearly an impossible linguistic accomplishment!… The clinical work that is included in this volume provides concrete evidence of this hope, and of the hard work that can be involved in realizing it. This book is avaluable addition to any library for the summary of infant research it provides, and the possibilities for change through treatment that it champions." -Nancy Freeman-Carroll, PsyD, American Journal of Psychoanalysis

"The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment accentuates the sceience-practice relationship at large, and further shores up the academic link between analytic theories and treatments. Exemplar investigators Beatrice Beebe and Frank Lachmann demonstrate the successful marriage between careful laboratory examiniation of attachment phenomena, adult pathology, and psychotherapy. The premise of the text successfully (and empirically) establishes the importance of earliest relational experiences to later psychological functioning by using a sophisticated experimental methodology not readily seen in clinical psychology or psycholoanalysis. As such, The Origins of Attachment provides a comprehnsive scientific investigation of the genesis of secure and insecure attachment styles, proactively opening up otherwise tenebrous theoretical concepts to empirical examination in ways not previously attempted… Scientists and those appreciative of research will surely value the brilliant methodology of the text… The Origins of Attachment will unquestionably illustrate the clinical utility of psychological science to even the most skeptical of psychotherapists… [This] is a book highly recommended to facilitate an appreciation of the blending of the natural science model with analytic treatments." -Anthony F. Tasso, Division|Review

"The book is packed with a wealth of findings from various other studies, as well as the microanalyses for this one, with very detailed comparisons made between future secure, future resistant, and future disorganised infants at four months old….This remarkable book is a rich source of learning for parent–infant, child, and adult psychotherapists, psychologists, and those working with families, confirming through carefully documented research what many may have already intuitively known and practised." – Alexandra Maeja Raicar, Attachment

Over the past three decades, no one has been more successful in building bridges between academic developmental research and contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice than Beatrice Beebe and Frank Lachmann. This is the case because there is a perfect match these authors’ focus on the impact of early mother-infant interaction patterns and contemporary psychoanalysis’s emphasis on the constitutive relational contexts of all things clinical. The Origins of Attachment: Infant Research and Adult Treatment is a beautiful and persuasive case in point, documenting how patterns of relatedness between mother and infant provide parallels and analogies for patient-therapist face-to-face interactions in the adult treatment setting. I highly recommend this book to any psychoanalytic therapist who wishes to find an empirical research grounding for his or her clinical thinking and work. – Robert D. Stolorow, PhD, Author, World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011)

"This, book, rooted in one of the most influential and creative research programs in our field, demonstrates in rare fashion how developmental research can contribute significantly to therapeutic practice, not only with mothers and infants but with adults. Showing a noteworthy appreciation of the ways that unconscious processes can be coded at the procedural rather than declarative level and of the ways that the shaping of personal experience is ongoingly mutual and reciprocal, not simply a matter of once and for all internalizations, this is a book that will reward reading and re-reading by researchers and clinicians alike." Paul L. Wachtel is CUNY Distinguished Professor at City College and the CUNY Graduate Center

Table of Contents

Part I: Mother-infant Communication and Adult Treatment. Beebe, Lachmann, The Origins of Relatedness: Film Illustrations. Beebe, Lachmann, The Organization of Relational Experience in Early Infancy. Beebe, Lachmann, The Origins of Relatedness in Disorganized Attachment: Our Approach. Beebe, Lachmann, Infant Disorganized Attachment, Young Adult Outcomes, and Adult Treatment.Part II. Mother-Infant Communication, the Origins of Attachment, and Implications for Adult Treatment. Beebe, Lachmann, Future Secure Dyads. Beebe, Lachmann, Future Resistant Dyads. Beebe, Lachmann, Future Disorganized Dyads. Beebe, Lachmann, Discussion: Mother-infant Communication, the Origins of Attachment and Adult Treatment. Part III. Discussants:Relevance of the Research to Child and Adult Treatment. Clement, Ronald Fairbairn’s Theory of Object Relations and the Microanalysis of Mother-Infant Interaction: A Mutual Enrichment. Slavin and Klein, Probing to Know and Be Known: Existential and Evolutionary Perspectives on the Disorganized Patent’s Relationship with the Analyst. Shane, On Knowing and Being Known: The Case of Oliver. Harrison,Imagining Chloe in Infancy. Seligman,From Microsecond to Psychic Structure.

About the Authors

Beatrice Beebe is Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry), College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute; faculty at the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center, the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, and the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

Frank M. Lachmann is a teacher, supervisor, and a member of the Founding Faculty of the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, New York; and a Clinical Assistant Professor, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Child
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health