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Schur, M. (1960). Discussion of Dr. John Bowlby's Paper. Psychoanal. St. Child, 15:63-84.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 15:63-84

Discussion of Dr. John Bowlby's Paper

Max Schur, M.D.


Staying within the framework of psychoanalytic concepts and terminology, which are broad enough for the expression of the pertinent problems, Bowlby justly considers the child's relationship to his first object, the mother, as an essential, vital part of his development. He rightly considers separation from mother as one of the basic danger situations, and his and Robertson's observations bring beautiful illustrations of it.

To the danger of separation from the mother, the child responds with various gradations of anxiety. The child responds to the actual, temporary, or permanent loss of the mother, among other reactions, with various shades of depression.

Bowlby then assumes that this response is longer-lasting and has deeper pathological consequences than—as he claims—had been assumed, and with these consequences he wants to deal in future papers.

In order to reach these conclusions, which are not "controversial," Bowlby felt compelled to revamp, more or less, some of the

most fundamental concepts and formulations of psychoanalysis, reached in the last decades by reconstruction in analysis and by direct observation. Among these basic concepts, to mention only a few, are ego development; interdependence of drive, ego development, and environment; orality; narcissism; the metapsychological approach to the problem of the affects anxiety and depression, etc.

Bowlby tries to base this very extensive—and, in my opinion, not constructive—reformulation on his application of the instinct concepts of ethology, an application in which he goes far beyond the claims of even Lorenz. His application contradicts also all the evidence accumulated by research on animal behavior and the development of human structure, which prove the importance of learning for the development of the species-specific Anlage.

I hope that this critical discussion has contributed toward the clarification of some of these issues.

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