The Verdict Is In



The Case for Attachment Theory

By Alan Sroufe and Daniel Siegel



The Case for Attachment Theory

By Alan Sroufe and Daniel Siegel

While many schools of psychotherapy have held that our early experiences with our caretakers have a powerful impact on our adult functioning, there have been plenty of hard-nosed academics and researchers who've remained unconvinced. Back in 1968, psychologist Walter Mischel created quite a stir when he challenged the concept that we even have a core personality that organizes our behavior, contending instead that situational factors are much better predictors of what we think and do. Some developmental psychologists, like Judith Rich Harris, author of The Nurture Assumption, have gone so far as to argue that the only important thing parents give their children is their genes, not their care. Others, like Jerome Kagan, have emphasized the ongoing influence of inborn temperament in shaping human experience, asserting that the effect of early experience, if any, is far more fleeting than is commonly assumed. In one memorable metaphor, Kagan likened the unfolding of life to a tape recorder with the record button always turned on and new experiences overwriting and erasing previous experiences. n At the same time, the last 50 years have seen the accumulation of studies supporting an…

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