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Bowlby, J. Figlio, K. Young, R.M. (1986). An interview with John Bowlby on the origins and reception of his work. Free Associations, 1(6):36-64.

(1986). Free Associations, 1(6):36-64

An interview with John Bowlby on the origins and reception of his work

John Bowlby, Karl Figlio and Robert M. Young

Robert Young (BY): You may or may not recall when I came and had lunch with you we had a conversation, which I found fascinating, about the period in which your work first began to come out. I would like in this discussion to cover that topic, for historical reasons. Another topic I have in mind is the relationship between psychoanalysis and scientific method, and the third, although we are open to any which you wish to add, is the debate around your work on the topic of feminism — your own view of the matter. But I'm most interested in the first topic, which is what happened when you first got into the work — you might wish to say how you first got into it — and how Melanie Klein, Anna Freud and René Spitz first perceived your work.

John Bowlby (JB): You'd like me to start on the history. Well, it starts in 1928-29, the reason for that being this: I was at Cambridge from 1925 to 1928; I read pre-clinical medicine but I got interested in what we would now call developmental psychology. That led me to spend a year in what would now be called a school for maladjusted children. And whilst I was there I naturally was in contact with a number of disturbed children, but what was more important, or equally important, was that the outlook of the school was that these children's troubles stemmed from the family experience they'd had in the past. There were two boys who stand out in my mind very clearly. One was a small boy of eight who spent his whole life shadowing me, following me around …

BY: Like a greylag goose.

JB: The other was a boy who was totally shut in emotionally.

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