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From Broken Attachments to Earned Security

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The 2011 John Bowlby Memorial Conference, 'From Broken Attachments to Earned Security - The Role of Empathy in Therapeutic Change', focussed on what needs to take place to facilitate empathy and attunement and ultimately the achievement of earned security. The confernce posed the challenge of how to re-establish a secure sense of self, mutuality, and the capacity for inter/intra-subjectivity when difficulties in empathy and attunement exist as a result of relational trauma. This can be between parent and child, within adult relationships, between client and therapist, or in organisational contexts. The outstanding collection of papers in this volume make a significant contribution to the field of attachment and our understanding of how child rearing affects each aspect of our lives, from the interpersonal to the organisational and societal. Each paper moves beyond the academic and theoretical to provide answers to the many difficult questions raised at the conference. The practical, sometimes step-by-step explanation of the use of empathy in one-to-one clinical work, in health service organisations or society generally, offer a positive and hopeful way forward. All of the presenters faced up to the challenges of repairing or reversing the impact of derailed attachments and the toxic impact of trauma, offering a realistic but hopeful route to improved relating and healthier attachments.This publication will be a valuable resource for students, seasoned practitioners, and health service professionals alike who want to enhance their understanding of empathy and attachment in this demanding field. Subject areas covered by your book in order of importance and key subject area:- causes of insecure attachments- impact of relational trauma- how to re-establish a secure sense of self- working one to one and in organisational settingsContributors: Sandra L. Bloom, Sue Gerhardt, Jane Haynes, Oliver James, Andrew Odgers, Anastasia Patrikiou, Eleanor Richards, Kate White

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CHAPTER ONE Attachment theory and the John Bowlby Memorial Lecture 2011: a short history

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CHAPTER ONE

Attachment theory and the John Bowlby

Memorial Lecture 2011: a short history*

Kate White

T

his year we mark the eighteenth anniversary of the first John

Bowlby memorial lecture given by Colin Murray Parkes on the theme of mourning and loss, which was a fitting recognition of

Bowlby’s great contribution to the understanding of human grief and sadness, and his clinical observations of separation and loss that laid down the foundations of attachment theory. This year’s lecturer, Sandy

Bloom was a presenter at that first conference and it is an honour that she returns to deliver the John Bowlby memorial lecture 2011 on the theme of “Creating, destroying, and restoring Sanctuary within caregiving organisations”, which takes the application of attachment theory into the important and complex arena of organisational life.

In the years which have followed that first conference, attachment theory, in the words of Cassidy and Shaver (2008, xi), has produced “one of the broadest, most profound and most creative lines of research in twentieth century (and now twenty-first century) psychology”. Nevertheless, given the hostility of the psychoanalytic establishment to Bowlby’s ideas, it has only been in the last two decades,

 

Introduction

ePub

The eighteenth Bowlby memorial conference was held in London in March 2011. Sir Richard Bowlby opened the conference, and this monograph reproduces the excellent papers that were presented.

We began with the known—that painful insecure attachments, emerging from relational trauma, result in difficulties in empathy and attunement whether between parent and child, within adult relationships, between client and therapist, and in organisational contexts. The challenge is how to re-establish a secure sense of self, mutuality, and the capacity for inter/intra-subjectivity with all these relationships?

The conference focused on what was required within all these settings in order to facilitate empathy and attunement and ultimately the achievement of earned security. Our six speakers explored how the dynamics of insecure attachment manifest themselves both at the micro-level of one-to-one relationships, and also at the macro-level of groups and organisations and the wider society within which they are embedded.

 

CHAPTER TWO The effort of empathy

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CHAPTER TWO

The effort of empathy

Sue Gerhardt

A

baby cries persistently and looks away from his mother. The mother makes soothing noises and seems to be doing all the

“right” things, yet there is a quality of detachment about her responses; she looks embarrassed and awkward. Her face is fixed in a half smile. She isn’t able to soothe her baby. Why is that? This is a mother who has spent very little time with her baby and isn’t very comfortable with him. She is afraid of failing as a mother. As a child she didn’t receive empathic parenting herself, and never really wanted to become a mother. She is certainly trying to do the right thing and trying to understand him: she comes up with various interpretations of her baby’s behaviour, deciding at first that he must be hungry (yet he rejects the bottle she offers) and then concluding “he’s angry”. Despite these attempts to make sense of his behaviour, she doesn’t convey a willingness to enter into his experience or to feel with her baby.

 

Chapter One: Attachment Theory and the John Bowlby Memorial Lecture 2011: A Short History

ePub

Kate White

This year we mark the eighteenth anniversary of the first John Bowlby memorial lecture given by Colin Murray Parkes on the theme of mourning and loss, which was a fitting recognition of Bowlby's great contribution to the understanding of human grief and sadness, and his clinical observations of separation and loss that laid down the foundations of attachment theory. This year's lecturer, Sandy Bloom was a presenter at that first conference and it is an honour that she returns to deliver the John Bowlby memorial lecture 2011 on the theme of “Creating, destroying, and restoring Sanctuary within caregiving organisations”, which takes the application of attachment theory into the important and complex arena of organisational life.

In the years which have followed that first conference, attachment theory, in the words of Cassidy and Shaver (2008, xi), has produced “one of the broadest, most profound and most creative lines of research in twentieth century (and now twenty-first century) psychology”. Nevertheless, given the hostility of the psychoanalytic establishment to Bowlby's ideas, it has only been in the last two decades, during which there have been dramatic advances in the congruent disciplines of infancy research and relational psychoanalysis, that the clinical relevance of attachment theory has been unquestionably established.

 

CHAPTER THREE Love bombing: a simple self-help intervention for parents to reset their child’s emotional thermostat

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CHAPTER THREE

Love bombing: a simple self-help intervention for parents to reset their child’s emotional thermostat

Oliver James

Introduction

The “love bombing” method is a simple way to help parents to reduce a wide variety of problem behaviours in their offspring aged from three to early puberty. It does so by giving the child a condensed, intense experience of feeling that their attachment needs are being met, sometimes through encouraging the child to regress to a toddler. Whilst the method has never been subjected to a controlled study, thousands of parents have now carried it out. Of these, I have personally had feedback about the results from approximately two hundred parents, nearly all of them positive.

In this paper, I will explain the theoretical background of the method before providing a brief account of it, as I explain it to parents.

In summary, I believe that the method rebalances cortisol levels in the child and enables them to move from an anxious to a secure pattern of attachment.

 

Chapter Two: The Effort of Empathy

ePub

Sue Gerhardt

A baby cries persistently and looks away from his mother. The mother makes soothing noises and seems to be doing all the “right” things, yet there is a quality of detachment about her responses; she looks embarrassed and awkward. Her face is fixed in a half smile. She isn't able to soothe her baby. Why is that? This is a mother who has spent very little time with her baby and isn't very comfortable with him. She is afraid of failing as a mother. As a child she didn't receive empathic parenting herself, and never really wanted to become a mother. She is certainly trying to do the right thing and trying to understand him: she comes up with various interpretations of her baby's behaviour, deciding at first that he must be hungry (yet he rejects the bottle she offers) and then concluding “he's angry”. Despite these attempts to make sense of his behaviour, she doesn't convey a willingness to enter into his experience or to feel with her baby.

 

CHAPTER FOUR To shed what still attempts to cling as if attached by thorns

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CHAPTER FOUR

To shed what still attempts to cling as if attached by thorns

Jane Haynes and Harry Whitehead

I

chose this title because Rilke was a poet distinguished by his attraction to everything psychological and who lived in terror of being “unanswered”: “Who, if I cried out among the angels’ hierarchy would hear me?” (Rilke, 1981, p. 151).

Throughout his life Rilke raged against his mother’s selfish vanities, which superseded any positive attachment to her infant son. Rilke went on sensationally to abandon his own wife and infant daughter in order to pursue artistic vision.

The patient I am writing about is called Harry, and he has written an accompanying version of moments in our long therapy, that is included below. He had a beautiful mother called Coral, who was an iconic figure in one of the first television soaps after the war: it is also important to add that she changed careers mid-pathway and opened an independent children’s home. When Harry talked about her my involuntary thoughts conjured a siren on a protrusion of coral, holding not a comb but a mirror, smoothing auburn locks. Rilke’s clinging thorns were imagistic of Harry’s inappropriate attachment: by which I mean an ambivalent attachment that was—throughout the majority of our therapy—characterised by longing. His father had been one of the coolest and hippest members of the sixties underground and his work

41

 

Chapter Three: Love Bombing: A Simple Self-Help Intervention for Parents to Reset their Child's Emotional Thermostat

ePub

Oliver James

Introduction

The “love bombing” method is a simple way to help parents to reduce a wide variety of problem behaviours in their offspring aged from three to early puberty. It does so by giving the child a condensed, intense experience of feeling that their attachment needs are being met, sometimes through encouraging the child to regress to a toddler. Whilst the method has never been subjected to a controlled study, thousands of parents have now carried it out. Of these, I have personally had feedback about the results from approximately two hundred parents, nearly all of them positive.

In this paper, I will explain the theoretical background of the method before providing a brief account of it, as I explain it to parents.

In summary, I believe that the method rebalances cortisol levels in the child and enables them to move from an anxious to a secure pattern of attachment.

The background

The main theoretical basis for love bombing is, on the one hand, the proposition that genes appear to play little role—remarkably little—in explaining why one sibling is different to another. On the other hand, there is a substantial body of evidence that early nurture plays a critical role in setting what I term a “child's emotional thermostat”: its consistent patterns of levels of key chemicals, like neurotransmitters, and its brain waves.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Creating, destroying, and restoring Sanctuary within caregiving organisations: the eighteenth John Bowlby Memorial Lecture

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CHAPTER FIVE

Creating, destroying, and restoring

Sanctuary within caregiving organisations: the eighteenth John

Bowlby Memorial Lecture

Sandra Bloom

Introduction: changing paradigms

In the nineteenth century, an American poet named John Godfrey Saxe retold in verse, an old Indian parable about the blind men and the elephant. In the poem, six blind men travel to see what an elephant looks like and in so doing, each one individually grabs hold of a part of the elephant and mistakes it for the whole. This poem stands as a superb metaphor for our understanding of human nature up until now, with every discipline declaring its own explanations for various aspects of reality.

But a new paradigm is emerging from neuroscience, medicine, developmental paediatrics, evolutionary science, genetics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy that is destined to change our view of human beings and our place in the world. Although still lacking an appropriate, encompassing word, this new way of thinking is already beginning to have significant impact on caregiving services under the general rubric of “trauma-informed care”, because it originated in the study of post traumatic stress disorder and related complex problems.

 

Chapter Four: To Shed what Still Attempts to Cling as if Attached by Thorns

ePub

Jane Haynes and Harry Whitehead

I chose this title because Rilke was a poet distinguished by his attraction to everything psychological and who lived in terror of being “unanswered”: “Who, if I cried out among the angels’ hierarchy would hear me?” (Rilke, 1981, p. 151).

Throughout his life Rilke raged against his mother's selfish vanities, which superseded any positive attachment to her infant son. Rilke went on sensationally to abandon his own wife and infant daughter in order to pursue artistic vision.

The patient I am writing about is called Harry, and he has written an accompanying version of moments in our long therapy, that is included below. He had a beautiful mother called Coral, who was an iconic figure in one of the first television soaps after the war: it is also important to add that she changed careers mid-pathway and opened an independent children's home. When Harry talked about her my involuntary thoughts conjured a siren on a protrusion of coral, holding not a comb but a mirror, smoothing auburn locks. Rilke's clinging thorns were imagistic of Harry's inappropriate attachment: by which I mean an ambivalent attachment that was—throughout the majority of our therapy—characterised by longing. His father had been one of the coolest and hippest members of the sixties underground and his work is still celebrated by the National Film Theatre. He was also falconer to the Saudi Arabian royal family and his photographed image reveals him as gloriously handsome. His parents separated before Harry was born.

 

Chapter Five: Creating, Destroying, and Restoring Sanctuary within Caregiving Organisations: The Eighteenth John Bowlby Memorial Lecture

ePub

Sandra Bloom

Introduction: changing paradigms

In the nineteenth century, an American poet named John Godfrey Saxe retold in verse, an old Indian parable about the blind men and the elephant. In the poem, six blind men travel to see what an elephant looks like and in so doing, each one individually grabs hold of a part of the elephant and mistakes it for the whole. This poem stands as a superb metaphor for our understanding of human nature up until now, with every discipline declaring its own explanations for various aspects of reality.

But a new paradigm is emerging from neuroscience, medicine, developmental paediatrics, evolutionary science, genetics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy that is destined to change our view of human beings and our place in the world. Although still lacking an appropriate, encompassing word, this new way of thinking is already beginning to have significant impact on caregiving services under the general rubric of “trauma-informed care”, because it originated in the study of post traumatic stress disorder and related complex problems.

 

CHAPTER SIX “What happens after this quiet bit? I may have to leave now.” The risks of empathy

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CHAPTER SIX

“What happens after this quiet bit?

I may have to leave now.” The risks of empathy

Eleanor Richards

W

allace Stevens wrote a poem titled: “Peter Quince at the clavier” (1923). The poem moves on to be about something other than music in its direct sense, saying things about intrusion and welcome, fear and longing, which do have echoes for the piece of work at the centre of this chapter. But for now these opening lines stand alone:

Just as my fingers on these keys

Make music, so the self-same sounds

On my spirit make a music, too.

Music is feeling, then, not sound

[…]. (Stevens, 1923)

This chapter was originally prepared for a conference on the theme of empathy. That is a word I have never felt sure that I have understood or been wholly at ease with, perhaps because for me it implies a dimension in which the therapist may easily be afraid of failing or feeling inadequate. For that reason, perhaps, I found myself wanting to think about it in the context of a piece of continuing work with someone with whom the possibility of empathy has felt very remote at times

91

 

CHAPTER SEVEN Empathy and earned security: reciprocal influences, ruptures, and shifts in the psychotherapeutic process

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Empathy and earned security: reciprocal influences, ruptures, and shifts in the psychotherapeutic process

Anastasia Patrikiou

H

ermann Lotze, German philosopher and logician (1817–1881), in his excerpt below, illustrates evocatively the process by which we perceive our environment, both animate and inanimate. He describes how we pour ourselves into the object in order to be and feel like the object we are contemplating. How we become the mollusc “in the monotonous pleasure of its openings and closings”, in order to comprehend, perceive, understand and interpret it, and how during this process, the object inhabits us.

No form is so resistant that our fancy cannot, living with it […] place itself into It […]. Thus we are able, furthered by the help of our sensations, to understand the alien, silent form, too. And we not only penetrate into the peculiar vital feelings of those which by kind and nature are near to us, into the joyful flight of the singing bird or the charming motion of the gazelle; we not only contract the feelers of our mind to the smallest thing, to dream with […] the narrowly defined existence of the mollusc and the monotonous pleasure of its openings and closings; we not only extend ourselves, expanding with […] them, into the slender forms

 

Chapter Six: “What Happens after this Quiet Bit? I may have to Leave Now.” The Risks of Empathy

ePub

Eleanor Richards

Wallace Stevens wrote a poem titled: “Peter Quince at the clavier” (1923). The poem moves on to be about something other than music in its direct sense, saying things about intrusion and welcome, fear and longing, which do have echoes for the piece of work at the centre of this chapter. But for now these opening lines stand alone:

Just as my fingers on these keys

Make music, so the self-same sounds

On my spirit make a music, too.

Music is feeling, then, not sound

[…]. (Stevens, 1923)

This chapter was originally prepared for a conference on the theme of empathy. That is a word I have never felt sure that I have understood or been wholly at ease with, perhaps because for me it implies a dimension in which the therapist may easily be afraid of failing or feeling inadequate. For that reason, perhaps, I found myself wanting to think about it in the context of a piece of continuing work with someone with whom the possibility of empathy has felt very remote at times (in both directions), and for whom the prospect of having his feelings recognised has been something he has striven to avoid.

 

APPENDIX I Reading list

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APPENDIX I

Reading list

Alvarez, A. (1992). Live Company. London: Routledge.

Begley, S. (2009). The Plastic Mind. London: Constable.

Blackmore, S. (2006). Conversations on Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford

University Press.

Bloom, S. L. (1997). Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies.

New York: Routledge.

Bloom, S. L. (Ed.) (2001). Violence: A Public Health Epidemic and a Public Health

Approach. London: Karnac.

Bloom, S. L. (2010). The mental health aspects of IPV: Survivors, professionals, and systems. In: A. P. Giardino, & E. R. Giardino (Eds.), Intimate

Partner Violence, Domestic Violence, and Spousal Abuse: A Resource for Professionals Working With Children and Families (pp. 207–250). St. Louis, MO:

STM Learning.

Bloom, S. L. (2010). Trauma-organized systems and parallel process. In: N.

Tehrani (Ed.), Managing Trauma in the Workplace—Supporting Workers and the Organization (pp. 139–153). London: Routledge.

 

Chapter Seven: Empathy and Earned Security: Reciprocal Influences, Ruptures, and Shifts in the Psychotherapeutic Process

ePub

Anastasia Patrikiou

Hermann Lotze, German philosopher and logician (1817–1881), in his excerpt below, illustrates evocatively the process by which we perceive our environment, both animate and inanimate. He describes how we pour ourselves into the object in order to be and feel like the object we are contemplating. How we become the mollusc “in the monotonous pleasure of its openings and closings”, in order to comprehend, perceive, understand and interpret it, and how during this process, the object inhabits us.

No form is so resistant that our fancy cannot, living with it […] place itself into It […]. Thus we are able, furthered by the help of our sensations, to understand the alien, silent form, too. And we not only penetrate into the peculiar vital feelings of those which by kind and nature are near to us, into the joyful flight of the singing bird or the charming motion of the gazelle; we not only contract the feelers of our mind to the smallest thing, to dream with […] the narrowly defined existence of the mollusc and the monotonous pleasure of its openings and closings; we not only extend ourselves, expanding with […] them, into the slender forms of the tree whose thin branches the pleasure of graceful bending and swaying animates; rather, even on to lifeless things we transfer these interpretive feelings and transform through them the dead weights and supports of buildings into so many limbs of a living body, whose inner tensions come back to us. (Lotze, 1858, pp. 200–201)

 

Appendix I: Reading List

ePub

Alvarez, A. (1992). Live Company. London: Routledge.

Begley, S. (2009). The Plastic Mind. London: Constable.

Blackmore, S. (2006). Conversations on Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bloom, S. L. (1997). Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies. New York: Routledge.

Bloom, S. L. (Ed.) (2001). Violence: A Public Health Epidemic and a Public Health Approach. London: Karnac.

Bloom, S. L. (2010). The mental health aspects of IPV: Survivors, professionals, and systems. In: A. P. Giardino, & E. R. Giardino (Eds.), Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Violence, and Spousal Abuse: A Resource for Professionals Working With Children and Families (pp. 207–250). St. Louis, MO: STM Learning.

Bloom, S. L. (2010). Trauma-organized systems and parallel process. In: N. Tehrani (Ed.), Managing Trauma in the Workplace—Supporting Workers and the Organization (pp. 139–153). London: Routledge.

 

Appendix II: The Bowlby Centre

ePub

Promoting attachment and inclusion

Since 1976 The Bowlby Centre (formerly known as CAPP) has developed as an organisation committed to the practice of attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The Bowlby Centre is a dynamic, rapidly developing charity which aims both to train attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapists and to deliver a psychotherapy service to those who are most marginalised and frequently excluded from long term psychotherapy.

We provide a four year part time psychotherapy training accredited by the UKCP and operate a psychotherapy referral service for the public including the low cost Blues Project. The Bowlby Centre has a wealth of experience in the fields of attachment and loss and particular expertise in working with trauma and abuse. As part of our ongoing commitment to anti-discriminatory practice we offer a consultation service to the public and private sectors and are engaged in outreach and special projects working with care leavers, women experiencing violence and abuse, offenders and ex offenders, people struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol, eating difficulties or self harm, and to individuals and groups in a wide variety of mental health settings.

 

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