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Wachtel, P. (2017). Attachment Theory and Clinical Practice: A Cyclical Psychodynamic Vantage Point. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(5):332-342.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(5):332-342

Attachment Theory and Clinical Practice: A Cyclical Psychodynamic Vantage Point

Paul L. Wachtel, Ph.D.

This article describes an approach to the clinical use of attachment theory and research that is rooted in the cyclical psychodynamic perspective. Cyclical psychodynamics is a version of relational thought that emphasizes the way that early patterns of interpersonal transaction and subjective experience are perpetuated in the present via the occurrence of vicious and virtuous circles. It traces the feedback loops that create self-perpetuating patterns both between people and in the subjective world of each individual and shows how the induction of others as accomplices in maintaining these patterns plays a critical role. Attachment phenomena are understood from this vantage point as maintained via the continuing transactions that both result from and re-create each individual’s attachment status. This approach to attachment highlights attachment dynamics more than attachment categories. Two clinical cases are presented to illuminate how this way of thinking about attachment can guide clinical work.

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