John Bowlby (1907 -
“The infant and young child
shoulde with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in
which both find satisfaction and enjoyment” (Bowlby,
- Originally developed by John Bowlby (1907 - 1990)
- He was a British psychoanalyst who tried to explain the
intense distress experienced by infants who had been
separated from their parent.
- Theory was further developed by Mary Ainsworth.
- The theory describes the dynamics of long-term
relationships between humans especially as in families and
- The theory was published across three volumes
- 1. Attachment (1969);
- 2. Separation (1973); and
- 3. Loss (1983.
Attachment theory derived its concepts from:
- information processing,
- developmental psychology,
- object relations theory
- and psychoanalysts,
- Attachment: An enduring emotional tie to a special person,
characterized by a tendency to seek and maintain closeness,
especially during times of stress.
- Attachment in the context of children: The enduring deep
emotional bond between a child and a specific caregiver.
- Separation produces extreme distress in children.
- There are significant long-term adverse effects on the
a result of even relatively brief separations.
- Theory emphasizes the role of mother in child's
development, where father plays the second fiddle to
- Phase of limited discrimination (birth–2 months)
- Baby’s innate signals attract caregiver.
- Caregivers remain close by when the baby responds
- Phase of limited preference (2–7 months)
- Develops a sense of trust that caregiver will respond
- Infants respond more positively to familiar caregiver.
- Babies don't protest when separated from parent
- Phase of focused attachment and secure base (7–24
- Babies display separation anxiety.
- Babies protest when parent leaves.
- Phase of goal-corrected partnership (24–36 months)
- Children ncrease their understanding of symbols and
- Children understand that parents will return.
- Attachment theory has been widely applied to the nurse
–patient relationship in those with chronic medical illness
and also in the palliative care setting.
- Bretherton, I. (1992).The origins of Attachment theory John
Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28,
- Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1.Attachment.
New York: Basic Books.
- Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Vol. 2.Separation:
Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic
- Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss: Vol. 3 Loss: Sadness
and depression. New York: Basic Books.