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Open Access John Bowlby and contemporary issues of clinical diagnosis

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA licence.

What might clinicians make of Bowlby's first patient if he were seen by services today? How might thinking with Bowlby help us critically consider children whose presentations span a number of diagnoses, and children who do not readily fit any existing diagnostic category? We will consider these questions through exploration of Bowlby's writings, as well as review of the literature on diagnosis, trauma, and caregiving environments. We identify tensions between the three key legacies of Bowlby's work: the focus on family systems; attachment theory as a theory of individual development; and psychiatric classification of attachment. In doing so, we will use conversation with Bowlby's ideas as the basis for a consideration of the purpose and function of diagnosis.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis is a new leading edge journal for clinicians working relationally with their clients; it is a professional journal, featuring cultural articles, politics, reviews and poetry relevant to attachment and relational issues; an inclusive journal welcoming contributions from clinicians of all orientations seeking to make a contribution to attachment approaches to clinical work.

    It includes up to date briefings on latest developments in neuroscience relevant to psychotherapy and counselling and is an international journal with contributions from colleagues from different countries and cultures.

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