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Schwartz, J. (2014). Attachment and Psychoanalysis: Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications by Morris N. Eagle. Published by the Guilford Press, London, 2013; 241 pp; £29.99 hardback. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(3):407-409.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(3):407-409

Attachment and Psychoanalysis: Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications by Morris N. Eagle. Published by the Guilford Press, London, 2013; 241 pp; £29.99 hardback

Review by:
Joseph Schwartz

This is an important and valuable book, especially for training purposes. It could serve very well as one of the required texts for a clinical training seminar titled, say, Introduction to Attachment Theory and Practice, for students with some background in psychoanalysis who are encountering attachment theory for the first time. A fine book-length review of attachment theory and research, it is essentially a skilful update and summary of the massive standard reference, Handbook of Attachment, now in its second edition (Cassidy & Shaver, 2008). Even experienced attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapists will find in the first six chapters a useful review of the attachment research literature: 1. Historical introduction; 2. Core tenets of attachment theory; 3. Key research findings; 4. Understanding and measuring adult attachment patterns; 5. Divergences between attachment theory and early psychoanalytic theories; 6. Divergences between attachment theory and later psychoanalytic theories.

The subsequent chapters on infant sexuality, adult sexuality and aggression are quite narrowly focused on classical psychoanalysis with nods towards Fairbairn and Mitchell but no foursquare engagement with either. It is a bit of a problem because I think most of our psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic trainings have moved on from being based on the foundation stones of Freud's classical texts. But maybe I am wrong. In any case the book Eagle has wanted to write is an engagement with classical psychoanalysis carrying on from Fonagy's famous quote: ‘There is bad blood between psychoanalysis and attachment theory’ (p. 1), alluding to Bowlby's isolation at the Tavistock and the hostility of the UK analysts of Bowlby's generation to his work. As I say, this is a good book and an important book, worth buying.

But …

There are major differences between the US and the UK in the way Bowlby's work has been taken up. In the US, attachment research has been a dominant research paradigm ever since its introduction. Whereas in the UK, and also with trauma specialists worldwide, attachment theory has been much more a clinical practice than a research paradigm.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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