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  • 0 NETWORKER EXCHANGEBest Saturday Learning Moment or Workshop? 03.28.2010 11:47
    I was there and am not sure if I completely understood what was happening but would love to hear other opinions from those who might know more about the debate on attachment theory.

    Siegel initially asked Kagan about adult attachment and what Kagan thought. I don't remember exactly how Kagan answered that question but there was nothing odd about that transaction. Later Kagan was talking about a conference in Baltimore where he stated that there was only one paper in the entire conference about attachment theory and that appeared to indicate to Kagan that attachment theory was irrelevant.

    Siegel raised his hand while he basically walked up and onto the stage. There was some awkwardness but both Taffel and Kagan yielded the mic without hesitation to Siegel. From I remember and I am paraphrasing as it was all rather surreal and it is not my intention to put words into anyone mouth but I remember Siegel saying that it was "intellectually dishonest" to make this claim in front of all of these people. It was worded rather strong and the room really went hush. Seigel went on to question the "politics" behind the conference in Baltimore.

    The debate went back and forth with each taking the mic 3-4 times. In those exchanges, Kagan stated that there is no known correlation between the mother's sensitivity to the infant and behaviors that the infant will then display as an adult.

    Siegel was shaking his head the whole time...no..no....no...Siegel was mentioning the research that said differently. Kagan would respond the research Seigel was talking about was based on mother's narratives and was basically unreliable. Seigel continued to disagree.

    Kagan took the mic back and restated his point that attachment could be a bad thing if the infant attaches to a mother who holds values that are not healthy for the individuals development...he cited such examples of a mother than might think it is only important for a girl to think about looks, not be in a serious physical relationship until marriage. So to me it appeared that Kagan backed down from the initial claim about the irrelevancy of the mother's sensitivity.

    Ultimately they decided that Seigel would send the aforementioned research papers to Kagan and Kagan would read them over and they would have dinner to discuss...someone suggested writing and article for the Networker after the dinner. I didn't see anything out of Seigel or Kagan that signaled they would write the article.

    It was fascinating to witness. At times uncomfortable and at times inspiring. In my ten years at the symposium, I have never seen anything like it.

    In my opinion...again just my opinion as an observer that doesn't know much about this debate, it looked to me a lot that Seigel was there for a reason and this was his intention. It all happened so quickly. I can't imagine that Seigel, with is work being so connected to attachment and pointing out the "politics" of the Baltimore conference that he wasn't just sitting and waiting for this moment. Why he chose to do it in such a public forum, I wonder. He didn't quite present himself in the most "mindful" of manners. While possibly being intellectually honest going up against something he believes the research supports, it was borderline crass and aggressive, in my opinion. Seigel is the golden boy of the symposium and is loved by everyone but there was something that was not quite smooth about how this challenge went down.

    That being said, they were emotionally cordial during the debate and in a time when we are witnessing such craziness in public debate it was fascinating to watch these two go at so content aggressively but so emotionally polite.

    There were really two levels of interaction that I found myself going back and forth on. One was the debate of the actual information and the other dynamic was the emotional response of each which was certainly testy and watching to see if it would lead to some kind of problem…which it didn’t.

    I would like to have been inside Taffel's head to see what he thought about it all. It appeared to me that he wanted to give Seigel the space but might have eventually preferred to have Seigel sit down and be quiet. Taffel jokingly referred to it as an episode of "Jersey Shore"

    I would love to hear some other more knowledgeable impressions of what went down. It was without a doubt surreal.

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