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Gilmore, K. (1990). A Secure Base. Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development: By John Bowlby. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1988. 205 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 59:494-498.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:494-498

A Secure Base. Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development: By John Bowlby. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1988. 205 pp.

Review by:
Karen Gilmore

This slim volume is a compilation of John Bowlby's lectures, delivered to a variety of audiences, between the years 1978 and 1986. In the Preface, Bowlby makes explicit the underlying agenda for this collection: to sketch the history of attachment theory and its evolution through his own thinking and through the vast research it engendered, both directly and indirectly, and to encourage its greater clinical application. The lectures offer a compendium of Bowlby's main ideas, a sampling of research, especially the Strange Situation paradigm developed by Mary Ainsworth, and an opportunity to assess the robustness of Bowlby's theory as he attempts to integrate it with self psychology and applies it to various clinical problems.

As an introduction for the psychoanalyst unfamiliar with attachment theory, this book provides a readable overview; however, even putting aside differences based on theoretical persuasion, it is seriously flawed for its own purposes. Probably because of its original lecture format, there is a tendency toward oversimplification so pervasive as to undercut the recognition due Bowlby as the pioneer ethologist whose work opened up critically important approaches to the dilemma of research in infancy.

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