1st Edition

Trauma and Loss Key Texts from the John Bowlby Archive

Edited By Robbie Duschinsky, Kate White Copyright 2020
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    During his lifetime John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, was unable to publish as he wished due to strong opposition to his ideas. Now, with the support of the Bowlby family, several complete and near-complete works from the John Bowlby Archive at the Wellcome Collection are published for the first time.

    The collection spans Bowlby’s thinking from his early ideas to later reflections, and is split into four parts. Part 1 includes essays on the topic of loss, mourning and depression, outlining his thoughts on the role of defence mechanisms. Part 2 covers Bowlby’s ideas around anxiety, guilt and identification, including reflections on his observations of and work with evacuated children. Part 3 features three seminars on the subject of conflict, in which Bowlby relates clinical concepts to both political philosophy and psychoanalysis in innovative ways. Part 4 consists of Bowlby’s later reflections on trauma and loss, and on his own work as a therapist.

    This remarkable collection not only clarifies Bowlby’s relationship with psychoanalysis but features his elaboration of key concepts in attachment theory and important moments of self-criticism.

    It will be essential reading for clinicians, researchers, and others interested in human development, relationships and adversity.

    List of illustrations


    Foreword: Miriam Steele and Howard Steele

    Introduction: Robbie Duschinsky and Kate White

    Part One: Mature theoretical writings

    1. Defences that Follow Loss: Causation and Function (1962); Appendix: Selective Exclusion & Levels of Motivation (c.1960-1963)

    2. Loss, Detachment and Defence (1962); Appendix: Letter from Mary Ainsworth (1962)

    3. The Place of Defensive Exclusion in Depressive Disorders (c.1978-1979)

    4. Darwin: Psychiatry and Developmental Psychology (1983)

    Part Two: Early writings on guilt, anxiety and identification

    5. Psychological Problems of Evacuation (c.1939-1942)

    6. Freud and the Super-Ego (c.1933-1936)

    7. Guilt and Family Contracts (c.1937-1939)

    Part Three: Seminars at Stanford and the Tavistock

    8. A Psycho-Analytic Approach to Conflict and its Regulation: A seminar delivered to members of the Stanford Conflict Seminar (1958)

    9. Summary of Discussions and Topics for Final Session(s): A seminar delivered to members of the Stanford Conflict Seminar, February, 1958

    10. Psychological Processes Evoked By A Major Psycho-Social Transition (1974); Appendix: Transitions by Colin Murray Parkes (1974)

    Part Four: Retrospective reflections

    11. Interview with Alice Smuts (1977)

    12. The Role of the Psychotherapist’s Personal Resources in the Treatment Situation (1985)



    Robbie Duschinsky is Senior University Lecturer in Social Sciences in the Primary Care Unit, University of Cambridge. He is also a Fellow and Director of Studies at Sidney Sussex College.

    Kate White is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor and member of The Bowlby Centre, London. She is also Editor Emeritus for Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis and is currently Series Editor for The Bowlby Centre Monographs and most recently co-editor of Dementia: An Attachment Approach.

    "This impressive collection of unpublished works provides the reader with an exceptional opportunity to further understand the treasured and influential thoughts and ideas of John Bowlby, especially his theoretical perspective on trauma and loss. This book is a must read for clinicians interested in the applications of attachment theory, for researchers who wish to broaden their understanding of attachment theory, and for developmental psychopathologists whose main principles have been greatly influenced by Bowlby’s brilliant viewpoint. Professionals from a variety of disciplines, in addition to students in developmental and clinical science will profit greatly from a thorough reading of this volume." --Dante Cicchetti, McKnight Presidential Chair, William Harris Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, USA

    "An extraordinary selection of previously unpublished material giving brilliant insights into the working of a brilliant mind. The editors are to be warmly congratulated on a  collection that is not only of immense historical value, but remarkably speaks to current controversies in relation to trauma, resilience and the philosophy of psychological science. An essential supplement to the Bowlby oeuvre." --Peter Fonagy, Professor & Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL; Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK

    "Attachment scholars and clinicians alike will find in this collection a series of rare treasures, among them insights into Bowlby’s bold challenges to psychoanalysis, and into the ways his work laid the groundwork for contemporary relational and trauma theory. These papers, many of them well over fifty years old, remind us – once again – of Bowlby’s brilliance and remarkable prescience in predicting much of what is mainstream developmental and clinical theory today." --Arietta Slade, Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Centre and Professor Emerita, Clinical Psychology at the City University of New York, USA

    "This book is a treasure. What a gift to have further seminal thoughts from one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century. Readers who want to know more about the scientist and those who want to know more about the clinician both will find this book valuable. All will enjoy learning more about the dogged curiosity and humility of this giant of a scholar. Bowlby was way ahead of his time in understanding segregated mental systems, developmental consequences of trauma, and family dynamics. He still speaks to us today about practical current issues such as displacement and migration." --Alan Sroufe, Professor Emeritus of Child Psychology, University of Minnesota, USA

    "John Bowlby created a theory that enabled researchers and others to observe and ask questions about infant-parent and child-parent interactions in a completely new way. His theory laid the groundwork for studying how children and their parents construct a bond, or attachment, through sensitive and attuned interaction, what can go wrong in the process, and how attachment disorders may be approached and treated. In a world in which people are increasingly distracted and alienated, attachment theory, as it has developed, offers the potential for promoting healing empathy, both for others and for oneself. These newly published texts of John Bowlby are a treasure trove for anyone interested in attachment theory and its genius application in psychotherapeutic work by John Bowlby." --Professor Karl Heinz Brisch, M.D., Chair of the Early Life Care Institute at the Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

    "This must-read volume re-affirms John Bowlby as a towering figure in psychological science. It shows how ahead of his time he was in his evaluation of the strengths and limitations of Freud’s work (the essay on defences is a masterpiece), his encylopaedic command of ethological, psychological and neuroscientific evidence, and the brilliance and originality of his thought. Compiled by cutting-edge scholars, it reinforces Attachment, with its deep Darwinian roots, as an essential starting point for all serious psychologists, psychotherapists and mental health researchers." --Professor Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter, UK

    "John Bowlby was one of the most courageous and creative thinkers of the past century. He illuminated in unique ways the origins of our humanity. We are gifted here to have the privilege to understand further how he reflected on the central questions surrounding the early attachment relationship and wended his way towards his masterful trilogy on Attachment, Separation, and Loss. This volume of unpublished papers has many riches that will occupy Bowlby scholars and researchers long into the future." –Karlen Lyons-Ruth, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard Medical School

    "A fascinating insight into the workings of John Bowlby’s creative mind, especially his prescient concerns about necessary future changes in psychoanalytic defense theory associated with traumatic loss of the mother in the earliest stages of human development." --Allan N. Schore, Ph.D, University of California at Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine