Bowlby’s Attachment Theory


Attachment is the formation of affectionate bonds with people who are essential in one’s life. Freud’s theory: Early infant-mother relationships affect the entire life’s relationships. This theory was disproved: Later bonds also shape attachment patterns. The 1950s experiment with rhesus monkeys showed that attachment is more about warm connection than feeding.

Bowlby’s Ethological Theory of Attachment

John Bowlby developed the ethological theory in 1969. The emotional bond with the caregiver is an evolutionary-developed mechanism that promotes survival.

Four phases of attachment:

  1. Pre-attachment (birth to 6 weeks).
  2. “Attachment in the making” (6 weeks to 6 months).
  3. “Clear-cut attachment” (6-8 months to 18-24 months).
  4. Reciprocal relationships (18-24 months and on).

Influence of Insecure Attachment on Adulthood

Secure children are more likely to develop healthy relationships in adulthood than insecure ones.

Child abuse and maltreatment often result in:

  • Physiological illnesses;
  • Psychological disturbances;
  • Maladaptive behavior.

Personality Pathologies

Cluster B personality disorders:

  1. Antisocial Personality Disorder.
  2. Histrionic Personality Disorder.
  3. Borderline Personality Disorder.
  4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

A disorganized attachment style is more likely to result in histrionic or antisocial personality disorders. Research also showed an association between attachment insecurity and borderline personality disorder. Treatment methods: Interpersonal and Cognitive-Behavioral therapy.


Berk, L. E. (2017). Emotional and social development in infancy and social development. In Development through the lifespan (7th ed., pp. 182-213). Pearson.

Bonnemort, L. (2020). Exploring the impact of insecure attachment styles in couple adjustment through the lens of cluster B pathology [Doctoral dissertation, National Lois University]. Digital Commons NLU.

Capaldo, M., & Perrella, R. (2018). Child maltreatment: An attachment theory perspective. Mediterranean Journal of Clinical Psychology, 6(1), 1-20.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2022, September 19). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, September 19). Bowlby’s Attachment Theory.

Work Cited

"Bowlby’s Attachment Theory." PsychologyWriting, 19 Sept. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Bowlby’s Attachment Theory'. 19 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory." September 19, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory." September 19, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Bowlby’s Attachment Theory." September 19, 2022.