'At all costs let us avoid any risk of allowing our hearts to be broken again': A review of John Bowlby's forty-four juvenile thieves

Angela Dixon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this classic study, Bowlby reports on 88 children seen in the London Child Guidance Clinic during the 1930s. Half of them were referred for stealing, and half for other problems. Bowlby distinguishes several factors which may lead to maladjustment, but was particularly concerned with the hypothesis that prolonged separation of the child from the mother in the early years was a causative factor in delinquent character formation. Such separation, thought Bowlby, was especially instrumental in the development of an 'Affectionless Character' often seen in the persistent offender. Development of this indifferent, or dismissive pattern of attachment protected these children from forming close, personal relationships, hence eliminating 'any risk of allowing our hearts to be broken again.' His first empirical study, Bowlby's comprehensive and detailed analysis of the 44 thieves ushered in his revolutionary human attachment theory and foretells the enormous contribution of his subsequent career.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-289
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Maternal deprivation

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