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Bowlby, J. (1960). Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood. Psychoanal. St. Child, 15:9-52.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 15:9-52

Psychoanalytic Concepts of Development

Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood

John Bowlby, M.D.


In a previous paper, that on "Separation Anxiety" (1960), I sketched briefly the sequence of responses to be observed when young children are removed from their mothers and placed with strangers. After delineating the three phases—Protest, Despair, Detachment—I pointed out that "the phase of Protest raises the problem of separation anxiety; Despair that of grief and mourning; Detachment that of defense. The thesis to be advanced is that the three responses—separation anxiety, grief and mourning, and defense—are phases of a single process and that when treated as such each illumines the other two." The hypothesis advanced there to account for separation anxiety was a corollary of the one advanced in an earlier paper to account for the child's tie to his mother (Bowlby, 1958b). In that paper it was suggested that the child's tie is best conceived as the outcome of a number of instinctual response systems, mostly nonoral in character, which are a part of the inherited behavior repertoire of man; when they are activated and the mother figure is available, attachment behavior results. In the paper on separation anxiety I suggested that, when they are activated and the mother figure is temporarily unavailable, separation anxiety and protest behavior follow.

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