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Coates, S. (1994). Ethology. Psychoanal Q., 63:168.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Ethology

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:168

Ethology

Susan Coates

Stephen Suomi, a student of Harlow, now Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, has been studying the effect of temperament, separation, and attachment experiences on the development of anxiety, depression, and social competence in primates. His work sheds light on the psychobiology of human attachment relationships and depressive reactions to separation.

Suomi's primate studies show the influence of constitutional temperamental differences on the individual's response to separation. Highly reactive, shy individuals appear to need their attachment relationship more than low reactive bold types. These findings are highly consistent with Kagan's studies of shy and bold children. The advantage of the animal studies is that both the genes of the monkeys and their early attachment experiences can be systematically manipulated, thereby bringing into relief the complex contribution of each. These new findings need to be assimilated into our concepts of development, symptom formation, and transference, and into our growing understanding of how attachment relationships develop.

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Article Citation

Coates, S. (1994). Ethology. Psychoanal. Q., 63:168

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