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Gillespie, W.H. (1952). Maternal Care and Mental Health: By J. Bowlby. World Health Organization: Monograph Series. (Geneva, 1951. Pp. 179. 10 s., $2.00. Obtainable U.K. from H.M. Stationery Office; U.S.A. from Columbia University Press.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:73-73.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:73-73

Maternal Care and Mental Health: By J. Bowlby. World Health Organization: Monograph Series. (Geneva, 1951. Pp. 179. 10 s., $2.00. Obtainable U.K. from H.M. Stationery Office; U.S.A. from Columbia University Press.)

Review by:
W. H. Gillespie

Dr. Bowlby's book is the outcome of a temporary appointment with the World Health Organization in 1950. The result is a most impressive document which has one pervasive thesis, succinctly stated by the author: 'What is essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with his mother (or mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment.' Maternal deprivation means the lack of this, from whatever cause. Partial deprivation leads to neurosis and instability of character. Complete deprivation may cripple entirely the capacity to make relationships.

Three types of evidence are reviewed—those based on direct observation, as in the work of Burlingham and Freud, Spitz and many others; retrospective studies such as those of Bowlby himself, Goldfarb and others; and follow-up studies, where Goldfarb's work is outstanding. The unanimity of so many investigators is certainly remarkable. Only three dissentients have been discovered by the author (Orgel, Brown, and Bodman), and he finds it possible to discount their findings on grounds of scientific method.

The evidence leads to the interim conclusion that prolonged maternal deprivation in the young child may have grave and far-reaching effects. Our knowledge of detail is small, but it seems likely that qualitative differences in the experiences of deprivation are connected with differences in outcome. Stealing, for instance, may depend on a break in love relationship and fail to appear if there has never been such a relationship.

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