Attachment Theory Opens The Door

Attachment Theory had its cultural and historic roots in the advocacy for better treatment of children in the post-WWII Europe when thousands of children were uprooted. In John Bowlby's pioneer work on Attachment Theory he studied the intimate early bond between human infants and their primary attachment figures and the significant effects of loss and separation. His research helped us understand the connection between these early experiences and the emotional, cognitive and neurological development of the individual as it relates to our capacity to connect with others throughout life. As Peter Marris described in his paper on "Social Policy and Attachment", "Secure nurturing childhoods foster adults who, whatever their difficulties, have an inner confidence to withstand the misfortunes of life and ability to love and trust. Insecurity fosters mistrust, self contempt, loneliness, hatred and revenge."

Bowlby insisted that "if a community values its children it must cherish their parents" and society has a responsibility to protect the family members from loss and separation in any way possible. Social conditions offer fertile ground for advocating for children and families. Mental health professionals, educators and policy makers need to educate each other and join together in their efforts to protect the interrelated attachment needs of the family and the community.

To that end the goal of the most recent conference, entitled "Broadening the Role of Attachment Theory in the Millennium, The Karl Pothers Memorial Conference" was to assemble mental health professionals, educators, policy makers and civic leaders to dialogue about how together we can prevent the suffering in one generation from becoming the social dysfunction and violence in the next. Approximately 150 people attended, including psychotherapists, administrators, educators and members of the media. The conference was so successful and pertinent to our times that the Attachment Study Group is determined to take their message and create a more proactive dialogue with professionals in other parts of the country and in England, the birthplace of Attachment Theory. Furthermore, a new website is planned for making information and resources available to the public, educators, policy makers, civic leaders and other mental health professionals interested in a collaborative research effort using an ongoing compiled data base.