A Brief Review of
The Impact of Attachment.
Reviewed by Josh Morgan.
Attachment theory is one of the most well-respected psychological theories in the mental health fields. Focusing on the effect of relationships on people’s behaviors, moods, attitudes, thoughts, etc., attachment theory has influenced many professions and subsequent treatment modalities. Rooted in psychoanalytic theory’s history, attachment work tends to be longer-term and less concrete than managed care-friendly modalities, like cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Increasing neuroscience research has focused more efforts on understanding the role of the brain, its structures, neurotransmitters, and hormones on thoughts, moods, and behaviors. With the rising medicalization of mental health and improving psychotropic medications, longer-term and more transformative (rather than symptom-focused) therapies have faced greater challenges and less respect.
Susan Hart, a Danish psychologist, attempts to tackle many of these in her ambitious volume, The Impact of Attachment. This thick text is a comprehensive explanation of attachment theory, particularly connecting it with modern neuroscientific findings. The fundamental thesis of her work is that “a dichotomy of brain/mind, biology/experience, nature/nurture is not very productive, chiefly because it hampers the development of a theory that is capable of fully embracing the complexity that characterizes human psychological development” (xi). As a psychologist, I can attest to the fact that the increasing debate that polarizes qualitative and quantitative like modern American politics is creating more conflict with the mental health fields. Such conflict does not help build better treatments if we were all to work together to bring our unique areas of expertise to elucidate the shadows of the mind.