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Purnell, C. (2013). Understanding Adult Attachment in Family Relationships: Research, Assessment and Intervention (2012) by Antonia Bifulco and Geraldine Thomas, published by Routledge. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 7(3):310-311.

(2013). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 7(3):310-311

Understanding Adult Attachment in Family Relationships: Research, Assessment and Intervention (2012) by Antonia Bifulco and Geraldine Thomas, published by Routledge

Review by:
Chris Purnell

With so much literature about attachment theory around these days, I anticipated that this book would offer very little that is new. It is in fact extremely comprehensive, with a very thorough introduction to attachment and a review of the range of measures that are available for assessing attachment in adults.

The authors introduce the reader to a measure called the attachment styles interview (ASI). I had an immediate reaction to the terminology because the word styles in my mind equated to fashion or the way in which someone chooses to present themselves socially. It plays down the strategically protective purpose of attachment relationships that is so essential for survival, even in adults. “Styles” seems like a term that is all too casual to be applied to something that is so essential for survival, such as attachment. It may be that secure attachments can afford to be casual, but where security has been absent, a “style” of relating can be dangerous. What is needed is a strategy. Strategies often develop unconsciously, and are intended to be self-protective even though they may sometimes also be disorganised or self-defeating.

However, once I got past this initial gut reaction I found that the ASI appears to be an interesting and reliable tool for assessing adult attachment. It uses self-report feedback about the qualities of current relationships with partners, family members, and close friends.

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