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de Millán, S.G. Millán, S. (2004). Hidden Meaning of an Early Loss: The Common Ground of Attachment and Social Character Assessments and Their Clinical Applications. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(3):157-163.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(3):157-163

Hidden Meaning of an Early Loss: The Common Ground of Attachment and Social Character Assessments and Their Clinical Applications

Sonia Gojman de Millán and Salvador Millán

All contemporary psychoanalytical theorists are concerned with the common problem of how to account for the preeminent importance of relations. John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, suggests that “instinctive” behavioral systems underlie much of the emotional life of man and have developed because they were necessary for survival. The system with which he was almost exclusively concerned was the multitude of behaviors and experiences constituting the child's “attachment” to the mother. This “strikingly strong tie, evident particularly when disrupted”, has systematically been observed by attachment researchers, through the development of a series of instruments that gauge interpersonal communication. These interpersonal communications have on their part been found to “contain traces of developmental history”.

Bowlby's theory is based on clinical accounts of cases of important loss experiences. A transcendental role is given in Bowlby's theory to the experiences of loss. It stresses that the construction of mourning processes can be seen as a manifestation of search and as a general gradual mental reorientation. The paper introduces the methodological perspectives, which are observable derivations of Bowlby's psycho-ethological ideas. We will argue that becoming acquainted with these attachment-research tools and with socio-psychoanalytic assessment can enhance the development of the clinicians’ observational skills, their insight and their scientific research practices. A clinical vignette seen through the lenses of the attachment assessment of loss is presented. It points in addition to the socio-cultural-ethnical basis that serves as an underlying structure for the development of meaning.

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