Developmental Psychiatry Comes of Age
An Animal Rights Article from


The American Journal of Psychiatry
January 1988
Posted November 2014

It's important to note that this was John Bowlby’s final say on the subject of developmental psychiatry, and he did NOT include any mention of Harlow’s work. Harlow’s work, showing that from the point of view of understanding the phenomenon of emotional deprivation/neglect/abuse early in life in humans, and the treatment of such phenomena, was not considered to be relevant in any way.


Although Meyer and Freud believed that the seeds of mental health are sown in childhood, systematic research has proved difficult and disappointing, and theory has remained intensely controversial. Research of the past two decades by developmental psychologists using an ethologically based theory of socioemotional bonds, however, is yielding findings that consistently confirm predictions.

The author outlines this research, giving examples of the results, which are shown to be compatible with findings of epidemiological studies of depressed adults. He holds that a person's degree of vulnerability to stressors is strongly influenced by the development and current state of his or her intimate relationships.

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