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  • 0 NETWORKER EXCHANGEBest Saturday Learning Moment or Workshop? 03.29.2010 09:03
    Hi all - tmyers, your description and observations are well put; here is another perspective from my notes and memory - I am hoping that others who were there will also offer their thoughts! Dr. Siegel's first question about adult attachment did not seem provocative, Dr. Kagan responded that what we has been described are 'personality types, not temperaments, and that adult temperaments are not understood'... but the fire started when a woman asked Kagan a followup question to a statement he had made during his lunch address - that our concept of "attachment" wouldn't exist if women hadn't gone to work after WWII. He said that theories like attachment arise in a cultural context; he began to say that Bowlby had misinterpreted Robertson's results, mentioned Ainsworth's 'strange situation' research and said that it was not predictive - around that time is when Dan Siegel rapidly approached the stage, asking to be on the mic. It wasn't clear to me until he got on the stage and took a breath just how upset he was. He said that attachment was extensively documented(and that he has studied with the researchers), and told Kagan that he was shocked and disappointed that a scientist like Kagan would dismiss the research and discredit it in front of an audience, (that's when he called it intellectually dishonest). Siegel referred to an article (by Schrof?), questioning if Kagan had read it, Kagan responded that he had but felt it did not collect objective data, that measures of temperament by maternal report are not sensitive enough - they went back and forth, then Ron Taffel stepped up and lightened the heated discourse by offering that there is hope, agreeing that a parent's ability to connect with the child is beneficial... Kagan said he agreed w/ Dr. Siegel that infants can establish an emotional connection when a parent is attuned, caring etc., but that even when an infant becomes securely attached to a parent, if that parent teaches maladaptive values for their society, that child will have difficulty. Kagan said that he doesn't deny attachment, but he denies the use of the "strange situation" as predictive for that child in later life. He also said that he has trouble with research that Siegel mentioned, using mother's reports about their child's temperament, because the language, context etc are subjective. Siegel disagreed, saying the interview instruments don't measure content but observed the way things are said, and that there is high correlation... Things were flying fast and furious, and Siegel seemed to backpedal his criticism by giving Kagan credit for other valuable research; Kagan was gracious although he seemed caught off guard by the rather personal attack. I couldn't follow all of the details as they were referring to specifics about attachment research that I am not familiar with, but it was amazing to witness two "giants" going head to head. Siegel commented that he wished he'd studied with Kagan, there are points that he'd like to discuss, and Kagan offered to read some data that Siegel had referred to, and then would take him to dinner to discuss it further. Ron Taffel did a great job of being 'mediator and moderator', and he then offered some examples of his work to tie the workshop back together, but I think that many of us were still stunned by what we had witnessed... As an audience member, I also would love to see an article that addresses the outcome of their conversation, but it's true that neither seemed to commit to this. It was a powerful and complicated exchange that was emotional, even theatrical, and fascinating on many levels. It showed the level of passion and commitment to meaningful exchange that the Networker and it's guests bring to the Symposium. Thank you to Jerome Kagan, Ron Taffel and Dan Siegel, for powerful and inspiring food for thought.

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