Evaluate the strengths and limitations of psychoanalytical and attachment theories

Psychoanalytical Theories and Attachment Theory

Psychodynamic theory and its derivatives can be traced to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. You likely are familiar with the image that often conjures Freud: A client lying on a couch with a therapist sitting nearby, notepad in hand. The psychoanalytic terms “id,” “ego,” “superego,” “repression,” and “unconscious” are deeply embedded in the layperson’s jargon.

Many theories have sprung from Freud’s psychoanalytical principles. Attachment theory is one example. Its originator, John Bowlby, was directly influenced by Freud, but because of Bowlby’s experiences in working with disturbed children, he believed that a child’s psychosocial development is linked to their attachment to the mother. Because all theories must be tested using empirical research methods, Mary Ainsworth tested John Bowlby’s theory using the Strange Situation experiment, which involved observing children react to caregivers and strangers. The results from her research led to what we now know as attachment styles.

This week, you switch your lenses to consider a case study through these theories.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Summarize the assumptions of psychoanalytical theories and attachment theory
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of psychoanalytical and attachment theories
  • Develop reflection questions to apply attachment theory in social work practice