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Hadley, J.L. (1985). Attention, Affect, and Attachment. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 8(4):529-550.

(1985). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 8(4):529-550

Attention, Affect, and Attachment

June L. Hadley, M.D.

How does the developing brain mediate the functions we generally subsume under the heading of “attachment”? Attachment is not some mystical, magical entity which simply forms as a mother and child gaze into each other's eyes but an orderly progression of brain processes which evolve on a reasonably predictable timetable. Bowlby (1969, 1974, 1980) and Ainsworth (1969, 1982) and Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978) have pioneered the field of attachment theory from the ethological vantage point, bringing rich observational data of the behavioral manifestations of attachment which they develop into an understandable body of knowledge. In this paper I will explore the brain mechanisms which mediate those behavioral manifestations and show some ways in which developmental vicissitudes can produce aberrant attachment.

Let us pause for a moment to ask why we should turn to brain mechanisms to help us solve psychological and psychoanalytic problems.

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