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Brown, K. (2015). Attachment Theory, Twenty-Five Years since the Death of John Bowlby: Still Keeping it Real. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 9(3):vii-viii.

(2015). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 9(3):vii-viii

Editorial by Members of the Editorial Board

Attachment Theory, Twenty-Five Years since the Death of John Bowlby: Still Keeping it Real

Kate Brown

“It's better to be on the side of humanity.”

Don McCullin, 2012

This second of two special editions of the Attachment Journal, marking twenty-five years since the death of John Bowlby is both a celebration of attachment theory and its founder's life's work, and an opportunity to reflect on the application of attachment theory in 2015. The first edition contained a transcript of the last known interview with John Bowlby. Deborah Rodriguez's careful and scholarly thematic analysis of the transcript identified the overarching theme of the importance to him of real life events. The implication of this observation stretches far beyond the application of attachment theory in clinical practice in the confines of private individual consulting rooms—to its impact on social, political, economic, and global policy.

Those who find value in the stress on the importance of real life events might feel that this comes with the call to be more socially and politically active, wanting to address the social injustice, inequality, and real life circumstances Bowlby stressed were so damaging to mental and physical health. We might find that we become “therapist/activists” or “activist/therapists”. If we acknowledged the impact of real life events, we may at times feel compelled to act, and need to make our understanding accessible to those in the “real world”—beyond the familiarity of our professional circles, and beyond our comfort zone.

In the news recently there have been heart-breaking stories of thousands of refugees compelled out of desperation to risk their lives attempting to cross oceans in overcrowded rubber dinghies. There has also been the closure of the charity Kids Company, accident and emergency departments, maternity wards, older people's day centres, and psychiatric wards.

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