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Brearley, M. (1995). John Bowlby and Attachment Theory. : By Jeremy Holmes. London: Routledge. 1993. Pp. 249.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1071-1073.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1071-1073

John Bowlby and Attachment Theory. : By Jeremy Holmes. London: Routledge. 1993. Pp. 249.

Review by:
Michael Brearley

Jeremy Holmes has written a timely, helpful and ambitious book. It is timely, in that it offers a synoptic account of John Bowlby's life and work soon after his death (in 1990). Helpfully, he includes a glossary of key terms, a list of all Bowlby's publications, and a comprehensive bibliography from the many disciplines that have contributed to, and been affected by, Attachment Theory (AT). The scope and aims of this relatively short book are also ambitious; not only does Holmes give us a clear account of the development of these ideas, he also questions them at each stage of his exposition (and from a range of points of view), and, especially in Part III (‘Implications’), he sets out to place AT in relation to psychoanalysis, to the practice of psychotherapy, to psychiatry, and to changing social world-views.

The picture of Bowlby that emerges is affectionate, admiring, but not uncritical. I found the psychobiographical speculations persuasive and enriching, as when he comments on the presence in an early family photo of the supportive hand of the invisible nanny, an unheralded source of security for a child brought up, as Bowlby was, in a traditional, stiff upper lip, professional and well-off Edwardian family. It is the profile of a man who, in his struggle with an avoidant pattern of attachment, managed to combine rebel with reconciler, bringing together diverse lines of thought both within himself and the world.

Holmes divides the development of AT into three phases.

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