Author: John Bowlby
Attachment theory is a way of conceptualizing the propensity of human beings to make strong affectional bonds to particular others and the many forms of emotional distress and disturbance, which include anxiety, anger, and depression, to which unwilling separation and loss give rise. As a body of theory it is concerned with the same range of phenomena as psychoanalytic object-relations theory, and it incorporates much psychoanalytic thinking. It differs from traditional psychoanalysis in adopting a number of principles that derive from the relatively new disciplines of ethology and control theory; by so doing it is enabled to dispense with concepts of psychic energy and drive and also to forge close links with cognitive psychology. In addition, the theory draws freely on data regarding human behavior and development obtained by a broad range of methods and, when appropriate, compares the findings with similar findings from studies of animals, notably nonhuman primates.