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Hopkins, J. (2012). Fifty Years Ago: John Bowlby Recommends the use of a Single Case Study to Understand a Child's Detached Relationships. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 6(3):173-189.

(2012). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 6(3):173-189

Articles

Fifty Years Ago: John Bowlby Recommends the use of a Single Case Study to Understand a Child's Detached Relationships

Juliet Hopkins

This paper contains what is probably the first attempt to describe the internal world of a child with avoidant attachments. Its creation was initiated in 1962 in response to the research interests of John Bowlby. However, at that time, Ainsworth had yet to produce her findings of infant patterns of security and the term “avoidant” had not yet been adopted. Bowlby's interest was simply stimulated by a child's unusually independent and detached behavio in the absence of any history of separation from her parents.

The child concerned was Clare, a six-year-old, seen for psychotherapy by me, a student of child psychotherapy in Bowlby's department at the Tavistock Clinic. Bowlby was aware of the value of single case studies in generating hypotheses, and encouraged me to write an account of the turbulent course of Clare's therapy; this constitutes the main part of the present paper. It describes how Clare, a very articulate and thoughtful child, gradually relinquished her defences and became able to seek comfort when distressed. It also happens to illustrate a particular Kleinian technique of child analysis, taught at that time.

The paper concludes with Bowlby's comments on my clinical paper and on the role of interpretation in psychotherapy.

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