Arieti and Bowlby: convergence and direct influence

Abstract

Arieti was a great specialist of schizophrenia and Bowlby was the initiator of attachment theory. Working independently on the two sides of the Atlantic, they converged on a range of topics, such as evolutionary theory, mourning, trauma, violence, and therapy as art and science. Later, Bowlby exerted a direct influence on Arieti, which Arieti acknowledged in his Love Can Be Found. Finally, the two authors cooperated in the second edition of the American Handbook of Psychiatry.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    From the Editor’s Note in a recently republished article by Arieti (2015) in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis: “Dr. Silvano Arieti (1914–1981) was a distinguished psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He received his M.D. from the University of Pisa in 1938 and shortly after graduation immigrated to the United States, because Italy enacted anti-Semitic laws the same year. Dr. Arieti completed his psychoanalytic training at the William Alanson White Institute. He was professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, training analyst at the William Alanson White Institute and former president of the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society. He was also a past president of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts. Arieti was a Charter Member of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, founded in 1956 on the premise that ‘The Academy would not demand stifling conformity to a unitary ideology. Instead, the Academy would be open not only to intrapsychic but also to interpersonal, family, group, and cultural dynamics, as well as biological factors, all of which interacted to shape personality functioning.’ (Slipp, 1999). Arieti became the first editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, when it was established in 1973 (also see, Barbanel, 1981). Arieti authored and co-authored numerous books and articles, and edited several psychoanalytic journals. He had particular interest in schizophrenia, depression and creativity. He was editor in chief of the American Handbook of Psychiatry (1959), a multi-volume psychiatric reference work, written from the perspective of psychodynamic psychiatry. Among some of his other well-known books are Interpretation of Schizophrenia (1955); Creativity: The Magic Synthesis (1976); Love can be found: A guide to the most desired and most elusive emotion (1977), which he co-authored with his son, James Arieti; The Parnas: A Scene from the Holocaust (1979), dedicated to the leader of the Jewish community in Pisa, who played an important role in Dr. Arieti’s youth and influenced his decision to become a psychiatrist. Dr. Silvano Arieti was a proponent of a humanistic approach toward the mentally ill patient, not only as someone who needs a cure or empathy, but also as a person who may offer profound insight or wisdom” (Also see Balbuena, forthcoming). (Arieti, 2015, p. 221–222).

  2. 2.

    John Bowlby (1907–1990) came of an upper-class British family. His father was the King’s doctor and had the title of Baronet. Bowlby studied medicine and psychology in Cambridge, England, completed his medical training in London, then trained in psychiatry at Maudsley Hospital and in psychoanalysis with Joan Riviere and Melanie Klein, with a special emphasis on children. He was a lifelong member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, where he belonged, together with Winnicott, to the Middle Group, now known as the Independent Group, intermediate between the conflicting groups of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein. Before the Second World War, together with his friend Evan Durbin, he published a book on aggressiveness and war. After the war he studied homeless children for the World Health Organization. He then developed attachment theory in the trilogy of Attachment, Separation and Loss, which was published over a 12-year period. The theory is based on ethology and evolutionary theory, but also has a strong emphasis on interpersonal relations, family dynamics and cognitive mechanisms. He worked for many years at the Tavistock Clinic, with the support of American foundations, and he taught and lectured widely in the United States. His last book was a biography of Charles Darwin (Bowlby, 1991).

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Correspondence to Marco Bacciagaluppi.

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1Marco Bacciagaluppi, M.D., is a Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry (AAPDP), Honorary Member of the International Erich Fromm Society (IEFS) and Founding President of Organizzazione di Psicoanalisti Italiani-Federazione e Registro (OPIFER).

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Bacciagaluppi, M. Arieti and Bowlby: convergence and direct influence. Am J Psychoanal 75, 320–332 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2015.26

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Keywords

  • Arieti
  • Bowlby
  • evolution
  • mourning
  • trauma
  • violence