Attachment Across the Life Cycle: How Relationships Shape Us from Infancy to Older Adulthood


Attachment theory has become a widely accepted cornerstone of early human development. Pioneered by John Bowlby and expanded by later theorists and researchers, attachment theory emphasizes the role of infant and early childhood bonds with caregivers, usually parents, on social and emotional development. As study of attachment theory has advanced, interest in attachment throughout adolescence and adulthood has increased. No longer confined to attachments established during infancy and early childhood, understanding how important relationships shape us during adolescence, adulthood, and older adulthood are growing areas of interest. Emerging studies of attachment in neuropsychological development, adoption, queer families, spiritual identification, social affiliation, and parenting give us new insights into how the fulfillment or deprivation of important relationships throughout life impact development and well-being. This course explores the historical and cross-theoretical roots of attachment theory, follows advances and refinements in attachment theory and research, and looks at attachment beyond childhood through adolescence, adulthood, and older adulthood. Readings include classical attachment theory, as well as contemporary attachment research, developmental psychopathology, feminist critique, identity theory, social psychology, neuropsychology, object relations, and psychoanalytic literature. Film and relevant case studies will be included for reflection and class discussion. Conference work may include fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or other settings such as youth/adolescent programs or older adult community centers.