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Copyright (c) 2009 Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law
Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law

Article: What's Love Got to Do with It? Insecurity and Anger in Attachment Relationships

Winter, 2009


16 Va. J. Soc. Pol'y & L. 491


Phillip R. Shaver, 1 Mario Mikulincer 2 and Brooke C. Feeney 3


I. Introduction
One of the most important and highly developed psychological theories dealing with human emotions and their origins and functions in social life, including love, is attachment theory. The theory was created by a British psychiatrist, John Bowlby, 5 and developed empirically by his American collaborator, Mary Ainsworth, 6 a professor at the University of Virginia. Of special interest here, Bowlby's original concern and first publication focused on a legal issue, juvenile delinquency. In a 1944 article, "44 Juvenile Thieves," Bowlby 7 used a combination of statistics and clinical case notes to show that juvenile delinquents often come from backgrounds that include loss of mothers, repeated separations from mothers, or being passed from one foster mother to another. He summarized these conditions with the term "maternal deprivation," which he might have called "deprivation of maternal love." Bowlby went on to rewrite psychoanalytic theory, which had focused on primitive sexual and aggressive "drives," centering the theory much more on early experiences in the family that lead to a secure or insecure, threatened, and hostile personality.

Beginning from these early roots, attachment theory has grown into one of the leading scientific approaches to understanding the psychological and behavioral effects of early parent-child relationships. The theory links clinical, developmental, and social psychology and has been extended to apply to all kinds of close relationships, not only in childhood and the family, but across the lifespan. It is now the leading approach to studying adolescent and adult romantic and marital ...
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