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Bowlby, J. (1964). Note on Dr Lois Murphy's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:44-46.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:44-46

Note on Dr Lois Murphy's Paper

John Bowlby

Because, as we are all agreed, the child's first relationship is of such great significance for our understanding of personality development and psychopathology, the lively debate that is now proceeding about it is much to be welcomed. Inevitably we do not all see eye to eye and there are no doubt misunderstandings on both sides. Nevertheless the protagonists have the same interests and purposes at heart and there is also a good deal of common ground between us.

In reading Dr Murphy's contribution I note especially her emphasis on 'the multiple reaching out of approach patterns of babies as they explore the mother's body visually and tactually as well as orally.' The existence of these approach patterns and the probability of their independence of oral satisfaction is indeed the starting point of my theoretical position. What Dr Murphy seems to find difficult is to believe that clinging and following may be particular examples of these primitive approach patterns, that they may be classifiable as species-specific behaviour patterns (as understood by ethologists), and that attachment behaviour may itself result from the activation of these and related behaviour patterns. In place of this formula, which has the virtue of comparative simplicity and has proved of value in studying similar behaviour in other species, Dr Murphy prefers theories of a more traditional kind. In her view 'the child's tendency to cling and to follow the mother in a [strange] situation … is both a deep cathexis of a gratifying love-object, and an expression of the child's urgent need to be able to manage, or to have help in familiarizing himself in and dealing with a strange world.

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