John Bowlby (1907-1990)

[From Bruce Abbott (951026.1735 EST)]

Bill Powers (951026.0530 MDT) --

Bill, your posts are coming in out of order, which is why I have responded
to some first which your wrote last. I do have a few comments to make about
this one, but I've already set some kind of record (for me) for posts to
CSG-L in one day, so I'm going to have to cut it short and save that for
later. I did want to respond to this one now, however:

However, I agree that Bowlby had many of the critical insights about
control, and given a longer research career, might well have ended up
with PCT. Or is he still alive and active?

Alas, John Bowlby died of a stroke on September 2, 1990 while at his
vacation home on the Isle of Skye. Here's a bit of his obituary:

    Attachment theory, originated by John Bowlby, has had a stronger impact
    on American psychology than any other theory of personality development
    since Sigmund Freud's. Bowlby's major presentation of attachment theory
    is in his three-volume series entitled _Attachment and Loss--Volume 1.
    Attachment (1969/1982), Volume 2. Separation (1973), and Volume 3. Loss
    (1980). The propositions of attachment theory are researchable, and the
    first researchers to use them were developmental psychologists investi-
    gating social development in infancy. This work is now leading to
    research into attachments in later childhood and adulthood. Clinicians
    were slower to respond, but within the last 10 years many have shown a
    surge of enthusiasm.
        From Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1992). John Bowlby (1907-1990). _American
             Psychologist_, _47_, 668.

I asked our resident developmental psychologist about the current assessment
of Bowlby's work. Although she said that it had been highly influential,
and was acquainted with Bowlby's "ethological approach" to attachment and
loss, she didn't seem to know anything about Bowlby's conception of the
underlying mechanisms. Mary Ainsworth, the writer of the above obituary, is
one of the major researchers following up on Bowlby's work; as you may have
noticed, she described Bowlby's approach as a "theory of personality
development." It would seem that the major contribution of Bowlby's work
has been missed, at least among those who should be acquainted with it best.