John Bowlby and the Tavistock Clinic Historical and political context to Bowlby’s professional
Bowlby became attached to members of the Tavistock group during the war. My colleague Felicity de Zulueta, Head of the Trauma Unit at the Maudsley Hospital, met him in 1990 to discuss her book From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness, in which she challenges those who believe that mankind is innately violent. On the contrary, she expressed the view that violence is the outcome of man’s traumatic experiences: attachment gone wrong (Bowlby, 1984; Zulueta, 1993). Bowlby was pleased to learn about Zulueta’s work and encouraged her to
pursue it. He also told her that, in spite of its brutal destructiveness, the Second World War had given him the gift of a close friendship, an attachment with the group of men with whom he fought. This group, the invisible college (see Chapter 3), played a major part in the reorganisation of the Tavistock after the war. In an interview at 70, Bowlby recalled:
We were a group for which the Tavistock acted as a kind of anchor so the notion was that some of the pre-war Tavistock people, together with some of the rest of us who were not Tavistock but who were in the party, should develop something or other as a post-war enterprise around the Tavistock.