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Brafman, A. (1989). A Secure Base by J. Bowlby. Published by Routledge, 1988; £8.95 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(3):458-461.

(1989). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(3):458-461

A Secure Base by J. Bowlby. Published by Routledge, 1988; £8.95 paperback.

Review by:
A.H. Brafman

A Secure Base is a collection of lectures given by Dr John Bowlby since 1979 on various aspects of Attachment theory. In his Preface he expresses his disappointment that, while his theories have inspired a large number of investigations in developmental psychology, clinicians ‘have been so slow to test the theory's uses’. He believes this may be due to a ‘reluctance to spend time trying to master a new and strange conceptual framework’ and he hopes these lectures may represent a ‘convenient introduction’ for those who have decided to spend some time discovering what his theories have to offer. Indeed, this book is a detailed, lucid and rich statement of Dr Bowlby's theory and I hope it will be read with the care and attention it deserves.

Bowlby sees his work as developing ‘out of the object-relations tradition in psychoanalysis; but it has drawn also on concepts from evolution theory, ethology, control theory and cognitive psychology’ (p. 120). Bowlby refers (p. 43) to the climate prevailing in the British Psychoanalytical Society when he qualified in 1937, when ‘it was regarded as almost outside the proper interest of an analyst to give systematic attention to a person's real experiences’. ‘To me as a biologist this contrast of internal with external, of organism with environment, never appealed’ and he goes onto quote examples of cases where the children's behaviour was clearly linked to childhood experiences of their parents. From these findings Bowlby came to choose his field of observation and embarked on the research that made him a world famous name.

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