Bowlby's attachment theory is a theory of psychopathology as well as a theory of normal development. It contains clear and specific propositions regarding the role of early experience in developmental psychopathology, the importance of ongoing context, and the nature of the developmental process underlying pathology. In particular, Bowlby argued that adaptation is always the joint product of developmental history and current circumstances (never either alone). Early experience does not cause later pathology in a linear way; yet, it has special significance due to the complex, systemic, transactional nature of development. Prior history is part of current context, playing a role in selection, engagement, and interpretation of subsequent experience and in the use of available environmental supports. Finally, except in very extreme cases, early anxious attachment is not viewed as psychopathology itself or as a direct cause of psychopathology but as an initiator of pathways probabilistically associated with later pathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health