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Hamilton, V. (1986). Bowlby's ‘Yearning and Searching’ Phase of Mourning as Seen in Adult Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Psychother., 2(3):251-262.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 2(3):251-262

Bowlby's ‘Yearning and Searching’ Phase of Mourning as Seen in Adult Psychotherapy

Victoria Hamilton

This paper was given at a conference to celebrate Dr. John Bowlby's 80th birthday. The conference was organised by the External Organising Committee of the Association of Child Psychotherapists and was held at the London Zoological Society on 28th February 1987. The theme of the conference was ‘Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory’. In the paper I outline Dr. Bowlby's theory of mourning with particular reference to the processes of the second phase described by him as ‘yearning and searching’. A clinical account of once weekly psychotherapy with an adult patient is given in order to illustrate work on disordered mourning in which the patient had remained imprisoned in a suspended state of searching for her lost parent. Some resolution of this state is described together with the ensuing feelings of anger, sadness and depression as loss is comprehended.

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