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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 04 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a3133
  1. Kate Robertson, staff grade psychiatrist, Ardenleigh Centre, Birmingham
  1. kate.robertson{at}

    Consisting of seven lectures that John Bowlby gave between 1956 and 1977, this book introduces and explores subjects that are still at the forefront of child and adolescent psychiatry today. It is impossible to overestimate Bowlby’s influence on subsequent psychiatric research and practice. The acknowledged “father of attachment theory,” he focused on child development, though his interests were far wider.

    A clear thinker with a dislike of jargon, he could quote Oscar Wilde (“Each man kills the thing he loves”), Shakespeare (“Give sorrow words”), or (rather alarmingly) George Bernard Shaw (“Never hit a child except in hot blood”). Bowlby had …

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