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Main, M. (1993). Discourse, Prediction, And Recent Studies In Attachment: Implications For Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41S(Supplement):209-244.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41S(Supplement):209-244

Discourse, Prediction, And Recent Studies In Attachment: Implications For Psychoanalysis

Mary Main, Ph.D.

The study of human attachment organization is founded upon the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, and takes among its topics the role of early trauma (Bowlby) and early parent-child interaction patterns (Ainsworth) in the development of anxiety and defensive processes. The infant's behavioral response to separations from and reunions with the parent in the Ainsworth Strange Situation has been found to reflect patterns of infant-mother interaction, and permits the classification of infant-mother relationships as secure, avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized/disoriented. Recently, children's narratives, representations, and fantasies at six have been found predictable from these four categories of attachment to the mother. In addition, an Adult Attachment Interview has been devised in which individuals are asked to describe and evaluate early relationships and experiences. Interview transcripts are classified on the basis of the transcript's discourse characteristics rather than the speaker's apparnt history. Four "states of mind with respect to attachment" have been identified, and in infant-parent samples each has been found predictive of the infant's Strange Situation response to the parent. Most strikingly, parents who are coherent, consistent, and plausible in describing and evaluating their own attachment histories, whether favorable or unfavorable, have infants whose Strange Situation response to them is judged secure. These studies are discussed in terms of their implications for the hermeneutic/constructivist controversy in psychoanalysis.

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