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Tye, S. (2009). Attachment in Psychotherapy. By David J. Wallin. New York: Guilford Press, 2007, 366 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(4):703-706.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(4):703-706


Attachment in Psychotherapy. By David J. Wallin. New York: Guilford Press, 2007, 366 pp.

Review by:
Susan Tye, L.C.S.W.

The competition for allegiances within psychoanalysis in the last fifty years has found John Bowlby at a very distant third behind others whose work was discredited initially, such as Fairbairn, Winnicott, Kohut, and Stolorow and Lachmann. More recently, following an explosion of research in neuroscience made possible by advances in brain imaging technology, the zeitgeist seems to have shifted, along with a convergence in infant research, development of the self, affect regulation, dissociation and trauma studies, neuropsychoanalysis, and attachment theory.

This rather ambitious volume by David J. Wallin, a clinical psychologist, attempts to organize and synthesize related current findings and theories with the pioneering work of Bowlby, his collaborator Mary Ainsworth, and their successors. Bowlby proposed the primary motivational system to be proximity seeking to the caregiver, an evolutionary-based mechanism to ensure survival and reproductive success. With Ainsworth, Bowlby extended this to the concept of the secure base in the infant's representational world, internalized from experiences with the caretaker's accessibility and responsiveness. Security was defined as comfort with connection and exploration. The drives of sex and aggression were conspicuously absent, probably accounting for much of their original reception as nonanalytic. In 1964 The Ainsworth Strange Situation research protocol, designed for twelve-month-old infants, developed categories of attachment style (secure; insecure: avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganized), based on infant behavior with a parent following a brief separation; security or insecurity was coded by the pattern of communication upon reunion between child and mother (p. 16). In the mid-1970s, Mary Main's Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) attempted to discover the internal or unconscious representational world of the adult with a structured series of questions about early life experience, including separation and loss.

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