chapter  3
28 Pages

Construction and Reconstruction of Early Attachments: Taking Perspective on Attachment Theory and Research

In An Outline of Psychoanalysis, Freud (1940) described the mother's importance to the infant as "unique, without parallel, established unalterably for a whole lifetime as the first and strongest love-object and as the prototype of all later loverelations" (p. 45). Such a view was neither new nor unique to psychoanalytic theory (indeed, it reflected, in part, Victorian-era sentimentality concerning motherhood and late 19th-century views of maternal care), but it incorporated within personality theory an explicit emphasis on the importance of the mother-infant bond. Appearing in the same chapter as his arguments concerning the childhood origins of adult neuroses, Freud's statement asserted the formative significance of the mother-infant relationship for later personality development, whether normal or atypical. This perspective was later incorporated into the thinking of neo-analytic scholars like Klein (1932), Erikson (1963), Sullivan (1953), and others. Erikson, for example, described the mother-infant relationship as the arena within which the baby established "basic trust" in the world at large.