During his lifetime John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, was unable to publish as he wished due to strong opposition to his ideas. Now, with the support of the Bowlby family, several complete and near-complete works from the John Bowlby Archive at the Wellcome Collection are published for the first time.

The collection spans Bowlby’s thinking from his early ideas to later reflections, and is split into four parts. Part 1 includes essays on the topic of loss, mourning and depression, outlining his thoughts on the role of defence mechanisms. Part 2 covers Bowlby’s ideas around anxiety, guilt and identification, including reflections on his observations of and work with evacuated children. Part 3 features three seminars on the subject of conflict, in which Bowlby relates clinical concepts to both political philosophy and psychoanalysis in innovative ways. Part 4 consists of Bowlby’s later reflections on trauma and loss, and on his own work as a therapist.

This remarkable collection not only clarifies Bowlby’s relationship with psychoanalysis but features his elaboration of key concepts in attachment theory and important moments of self-criticism.

It will be essential reading for clinicians, researchers, and others interested in human development, relationships and adversity.

chapter |14 pages


part 1|2 pages

Mature theoretical writings

chapter 1|49 pages

Defences that follow loss

Causation and function

chapter 2|31 pages

Loss, detachment and defence

chapter 4|11 pages


Psychiatry and developmental psychology

part 2|2 pages

Early writings on guilt, anxiety, and identification

chapter 5|17 pages

Psychological problems of evacuation

chapter 6|7 pages

Freud and the super-ego

chapter 7|24 pages

Guilt and family contracts

part 3|2 pages

Seminars at Stanford and the Tavistock

chapter 8|6 pages

A psycho-analytic approach to conflict and its regulation

A seminar delivered to members of the Stanford Conflict Seminar, January, 1958

part 4|2 pages

Retrospective reflections