ABSTRACT

Running throughout Bowlby’s life and work there is a strong moral and social vision. His credo, couched, as it so often is in the language of preventive medicine, might be summarised as follows. The emotional deprivation of children is a social ill, distorting and degrading the fabric of social life. It is society’s responsibility and duty to remedy this by appropriate social medicine. This requires the recognition of the problem through the acceptance of the findings of psychological science; training cadres of child-care workers and psychotherapists who are sensitive to the emotional needs of children and their parents; helping people to find security in their lives through the fostering of close emotional bonds; encouragement of the expression of grief and disappointment when they are disrupted. Devaluation of the need for love and intimacy through the scorning of ‘spoiling’ and ‘dependency’ and ‘scrounging’ contribute to emotional deprivation. Truthfulness, including facing up to the destructive, neglectful and abusive sides of our nature is the hallmark of secure attachment and an open society. The celebration of mother-love and of our mutual dependency as a species should be encouraged. In these ways

the vicious circles of deprivation can at least in part be broken, so that this generation’s insecure young people are no longer condemned to reproduce their own insecurities into the next.