The Relevance of Attachment Theory in Medical Care

  • Bernhard StraussEmail author
  • Katja Brenk-Franz


Attachment theory provides a biopsychosocial model to explain how individual differences in experience and behavior are related to interpersonal proximity and distance as well as to the regulation of affect and stress (Bowlby 1977). Whereas Bowlby’s original intention was to develop a theory for the assessment and treatment of emotional disorders, he was clearly disappointed that his work – for a long time – did not take root in the clinical realm of adult psychoanalysis and psychotherapy (Sandler 2011). Instead, his ideas were assimilated into developmental psychology, leading to numerous studies that validated concepts from attachment theory such as Mary Ainsworth’s investigations of infant attachment patterns using the Strange Situation (Ainsworth et al. 1978). These studies provide a solid basis for the extension of our knowledge of human development as well as its influence on personality and psychopathology (Bowlby 1988).


Attachment Style Secure Attachment Attachment Theory Insecure Attachment Attachment Anxiety 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychosocial Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine, University Hospital JenaJenaGermany

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