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MOTHER-CHILD Bond & Security

Mary D. Salter Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth was born in Glendale, Ohio, in December of 1913 (Biography, 2002). Ainsworth had two younger sisters and "a close-knit family" (O'Connell, 1983, 201). According to O'Connell, both of her parents graduated from Dickenson College. Her father earned a Master's degree in history. Ainsworth's mother taught for a while then started training to become a nurse, but was soon called home to care for her sick mother. Five years after her mother graduated, she married Ainsworth's father and became a homemaker. When Ainsworth was five, her father was transferred to a job in Canada working at a manufacturing firm, so the entire family moved there (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, her father soon became President of his branch. Weekly trips to the library were a regular family event for Ainsworth. Ainsworth says that her parents placed "high value on a good liberal arts education" and it was assumed that her and her sisters would go to college (O'Connell, 201, 1983).

At age fifteen, Ainsworth read William McDougall's book entitled Character and the Conduct of Life, which led her to a career as a psychologist (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, Ainsworth had not previously realized that a person could look within oneself to explain how one behaved and felt rather than focus on how external forces shape behavior.

Ainsworth enrolled at the University of Toronto in the fall of 1929 (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, Ainsworth entered the honors psychology curriculum where only four other students accompanied her. Ainsworth earned her BA in 1935, her Master's degree in 1936, and her PhD in developmental psychology in 1939, all from the University of Toronto (Biography, 2002).

Ainsworth taught at the University of Toronto for a few years before joining the Canadian Women's Army Corp in 1942 during World War II (Arcus, 1998). Ainsworth even reached the rank of Major in 1945 (Biography, 2002). After the army, Ainsworth returned to Toronto to teach personality psychology and conduct research (Arcus, 1998). According to Arcus, Ainsworth married Leonard Ainsworth in 1950. The couple moved to London so that Leonard could finish his graduate degree at University College. In England, Ainsworth joined the research team at Tavistock Clinic in England where John Bowlby was the project director (Timeline). Here, Ainsworth was involved with a research project investigating the effects of maternal separation on children's personality development (Arcus, 1998). Ainsworth and Bowlby soon realized that before they could access the effects on personality development stemming from the disruption of the mother-child bond, they needed to first understand the development of normal mother-child relationships (McCarty, 1998). Ainsworth and Bowlby found evidence that a child's lack of a mother figure leads to adverse developmental effects (Timeline).

Ainsworth's earlier interest in security was developed further at the Tavistock Clinic and she planned to conduct a longitudinal field study of mother-infant interaction in order to further examine the development of normal mother-child relationships in a natural setting (Arcus, 1998).

Ainsworth got her chance to conduct this study in 1954 when she left the Tavistock Clinic to do research in Africa (Timeline). Ainsworth's husband had accepted a position at the East African Institute of Social Research in Uganda (Arcus, 1998). According to Arcus, this was where Ainsworth studied the interactions of mothers and their infants. This data was published years later after she became a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. Ainsworth found that while the majority of the mother-infant interactions involved comfort and security, some were tense and conflicted. Ainsworth also found evidence that suggested the patterns of interactions between mothers and their infants were related to the level of responsiveness that the mothers showed their infants. Ainsworth developed the "Strange Situation," which was a procedure to assess differences in infants' reactions to a series of separations and reunions with their mothers (Arcus, 1998). According to Arcus, when administering the "Strange Situation," the researcher takes a mother and child of approximately one year old into an unfamiliar room with toys. There is a series of separations and reunions where the mother and child are first alone in the room and then the researcher enters, and after a few minutes, the mother leaves. A few minutes later, the mother returns and the researcher observes the child's reaction to this return.

Three major differences in reactions were recorded when Ainsworth was developing this method: anxious/avoidant (the child may not be distressed when the mother leaves and may avoid her when she returns), securely attached (the child is distressed by the mother's departure and seeks comfort from her when she returns), and anxious/resistant (the child stays close to the mother in the first few minutes alone and becomes highly distressed by her departure, only to seek comfort when she returns, but then reject her closeness) (Arcus, 1998). These three differences form the major types of attachment of Ainsworth's attachment theory: anxious/avoidant, secure, and anxious/resistant.

After two years in Uganda, Ainsworth and her husband moved to Baltimore where Leonard had found a position as a forensic psychologist (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, Ainsworth became a teacher at Johns Hopkins University and also provided psychological service for two days out of each week to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. Ainsworth and her husband divorced in 1960, and this was very painful for Mary (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, she became depressed and sought psychoanalytic therapy. This type of therapy was a great influence on her career. She became very interested in the psychoanalytic literature, especially Freud.

At Johns Hopkins, Ainsworth confronted sex discrimination (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, her salary did not fit her age, experience, and contributions, and three chairmen had recommended her for annual increases in salary. Her income did not significantly increase until the pressures of affirmative action set in and after Ainsworth had written a letter to the Dean. Until 1968, women were also required to eat in a separate lunch room than the male faculty. The University claimed that this was so the women would not have to see their male counterparts in informal clothing at lunchtime.

After 1968, Ainsworth noted that a sort of reverse discrimination set in where women were high in demand as teachers and every university committee had to include a woman (O'Connell, 1983). In 1962, Ainsworth continued her research on attachment and security at Johns Hopkins (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, Ainsworth used the "Strange Situation" and observed infants and mothers in their natural setting. Ainsworth visited the homes of the mothers frequently and approximately 72 hours of observation for each infant occurred. As in the Uganda studies, Ainsworth found that infants used their attachment figures as secure bases from which to explore the world.

Ainsworth never had any children, but considered her colleagues and students as her family (O'Connell, 1983). According to O'Connell, John Bowlby and Ainsworth continued to work as partners in attachment research and theory. Ainsworth was included in the Tavistock Mother-Infant Interaction Study Group, which communicated with various developmental scientists of different nationalities and disciplines. In 1975, Ainsworth relocated to the University of Virginia to teach because some of her colleagues from John Hopkins had moved there, and also because there were many developmental psychologists there. Jim Deese, the chair of the department at Johns Hopkins, and a close colleague of Ainsworth's, had also relocated to Virginia. Ainsworth was a fellow of the American Psychological Association from 1972 to 1977 (Curriculum). According to the "Curriculum Vita," she was also a member of the British Psychological Association, the Eastern Psychological Association, the Virginia Psychological Association, and she served as President of the Society for Research in Child Development from 1977 to 1979.

Ainsworth also received many awards, including the G. Stanley Hall Award from the APA for developmental psychology in 1984 (Curriculum). According to the "Curriculum Vita," she also received the Award for Distinguished Professional Contribution to Knowledge from the APA in 1987 and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution award from the APA in 1989.

Ainsworth also published many articles and books, including Child Care and the Growth of Love (1965), Infancy in Uganda (1967), and Patterns of Attachment (1978) (Biography).

In 1998, the American Psychological Foundation awarded Ainsworth the Gold Medal for Scientific Contributions (McCarty, 1998). According to McCarty, Ainsworth was also a co-recipient of the first Mentoring Award in the developmental psychology division of the APA.

Ainsworth continued as Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia from 1984 to 1999 (Curriculum).

Mary Ainsworth died in 1999 at the age of eighty-six (Curriculum).



Pierre Maurice Turquet, MA, MRCS, LRCP, FRCPsych. (1913-1975)


This volume is dedicated to the memory of Pierre Turquet, who was killed in a car accident in France on 27 December 1975, at the age of 62. In planning the volume, which subsequently has been a long time in the making, it was felt that the invited papers ought to report any new shifts in thinking about group relations training as developed and practised around the ideas of W. R. Bion by A. K. Rice and his colleagues at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. The wish of the editor was for a volume of papers that would be associative and reflective of experiences around group relations training, as opposed to a somewhat more didactic text.

The principal reason for this policy was inextricably bound up with the editor's experiences of Pierre Turquet in working with him in group relations training and as a member of the same unit within the Tavistock Institute. It has to be said that this relationship between the two was not always a calm one and could, at times, be very angry. But there was always a worked-through rapprochement. To work with Pierre Turquet was essentially to move into an educational adventure. It is the idea of adventure that needs to be held on to in retrospect. There might be discomfort, even pain, often amusement, but always learning.

When surrounded by a set of sympathetic colleagues on the staff of a group relations conference, Pierre Turquet would lead them into new problem areas. When colleagues were less sympathetic to the primary task he would somewhat more contumaciously attack what he thought were the problems. By doing this he stretched the capability of his colleagues to experience and interpret group and institutional phenomena and so, quite directly, enhanced their ability to take risks in leading themselves, in the roles of consultants, into the conscious and unconscious issues of group and institutional life. Thus members of working conferences were also led into issues so that they, too, could find their authority to explore and name phenomena for themselves.

Turquet's ability to ratiocinate about the larger issues of group relations training often was best demonstrated at the midday staff meetings during the working conferences of which he was director. Quite explicitly at times he would lead the staff outside the immediate 'skin' of the conference to consider particular institutions of which staff members had experience-universities and schools, the health services, prisons, the churches, for example. The boundary between a conference as a system and other institutions as systems he always saw as an open one. The relatedness between and among institutions would lead into a questioning of the state of contemporary societies in the world. At times he could be monstrously wrong in his judgements, but then that did not matter quite so much to him as the fact that he had led into a discussion by attempting to relate what might be happening within the boundary of a conference across that boundary into what might be happening in the environment of institutions and societies.

From these discussions psychoanalysis was never far absent but neither was classic literature, both English and European, nor the social sciences, nor contemporary politics. It was on such a large canvas that he worked. And art was one of his many interests. Those of his colleagues who could not engage on all these dimensions sometimes were left feeling angry or unwanted. But for others he pointed to new realms. He awakened in some the wish to come to grips with their cultural heritage and relate it to contemporary society in order to illuminate what C. Wright Mills (1970 edn) has called the 'private troubles and public issues of our times.

An indication of the size of canvas Pierre Turquet could work on can be illustrated by an experience in Ireland. There he was acting as a consultant on a working conference on group behaviour in institutions, entitled 'Leadership and Authority', organized by the Grubb Institute and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. He was excited about the possibilities offered by this conference and he was committed to its success because representatives were present of various Irish political parties, the predominant religions, and various interest groups from the whole of Ireland. He suggested that the conference was timely because Ireland was being given the problems of the world to solve on its behalf. In his view, South Africa had failed to take the opportunity to make a creative purchase on the issues of intergroup relations, but now Ireland was being given the chance to interpret its experiences of the problems and to provide an innovative solution that might provide a tentative model for other countries experiencing intergroup problems. It became clear in subsequent conversations that he was viewing the world as a massive group and as such subject to irrational and unconscious social and psychological forces but, nevertheless, able, albeit unconsciously, to give authority to particular nations. To report his thought thus is, however, to oversimplify because clearly he was holding in his mind some conception of the world and its large-scale social phenomena that was beyond the ken of others.

Turquet wrote a great deal even though he published sparingly. He kept notes on all his work and reading. Now, after his death, it is possible to realize why he could bring such sustained enthusiasm to his work in the field of group relations training. In the background, he was continually adumbrating ideas, relating his experiences to his wide-ranging reading.

As is well enough known, it was the 'large group' that was Turquet's particular interest and his unique metier was as a consultant to large groups. He and the late A. K. Rice were the first consultants to take a large group which was introduced to a working conference at Leicester in 1964. His conceptualization of what were, at the time, incomprehensible forces present in large configurations of people, numbering between 40 and 80, are substantial. Turquet's two papers, 'Leadership: the individual and the group' and 'Threats to identity in the large group' (Turquet, 1974; 1975), are likely to stand the test of time. What Pierre Turquet brought to bear on group relations training, then, was a passionate search for what might be the truth of phenomena and processes in the large group, the small group, between groups, and between institutions. To aid him in his chosen task he could call on a wide range of cultures with their literature and art, together with psychoanalytic thinking as well as other social sciences, but essentially it was his lived experience that enriched so much of his work in group relations training.

The writer only knew Turquet in the last few years of his life and so had to search out the facts from his wife and family and professional colleagues. Born in London in 1913, Turquet attended Westminster School from 1927 to 1932, and Trinity College, Cambridge, for the next four years. Although a College Prizeman in English and History, he graduated in the Natural Sciences. Immediately he followed this with attendance at the London Hospital Medical School and qualified as a medical practitioner in 1939. At one point earlier he considered entering the library service, but he opted for medicine. This choice may well have reflected his preoccupation with the human predicament. That he was able to hold the world of scholarship and the human predicament in some creative tension was evinced in the largeness of the view he brought to bear on his professional work.

Turquet first became interested in group phenomena while concerned with the selection of officers (War Office Selection Boards). He was a member of the original team which instituted this procedure and so would have had contact with those who subsequently were to found the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in 1946. Later in the war he was seconded to special selection duties and work in the Ps'ychological Warfare Section on enemy and allied morale. His career in the Royal Army Medical Corps ended in 1946, but for just over a year before that he had been seconded to the French War Office to help organize their Selection Services for the French Army, Navy, and Air Forces.

After the war, Turquet worked in the field of psychiatry. Subsequently he was employed in the Social Medicine Research Unit, the Medical Research Council, concentrating on the intrapersonal and interfamily relations of young people suffering with duodenal ulcers, until he joined the Tavistock Clinic in 1952 as a consultant psychiatrist.

Turquet's interest in group phenomena was, as his colleague Dr Robert Gosling pointed out in his memoir delivered at Turquet's memorial service, 'not however as an academic observer or participant, but always as a deeply committed participant, a stance that was further refined by his psycho-analytic training. In these matters he was chiefly influenced by Herbert Rosenfeld, Wilfred Bion, Melanie Klein, Michael and Enid Balint and A. K. Rice (Gosling, 1976). His passion for understanding the overt and unconscious processes at work in groups meant that he deployed himself in a wide range of activities (in addition to his National Health Service work) to ensure that all kinds of colleagues in the helping professions became more familiar with group processes because he believed that such understanding would enrich people's experiences of themselves and their work.

Within the frame of the Tavistock Clinic he worked for the Adult Department and the School of Family and Community Psychiatry. In these departments he was engaged in psychotherapy and in the advanced training of general practitioners, probation officers, social workers, health visitors, and physio- therapists. With the Tavistock Institute he was among those who helped to establish the Institute of Marital Studies, which was formerly the Family Discussion Bureau. In 1962 he also became a part-time consultant in the then Centre for Applied Social Research of the institute. This seemed appropriate given his involvement in the Group Relations Training Programme of that unit since 1957. Here amply demonstrated was Turquet's capacity to work across institutional boundaries and he remains one of a very small band of people in the Tavistock Centre who have wanted and been able to do so.

To new ventures he would give his unstinting support. He had been a consultant for the Grubb Institute of Behavioural Studies since 1965, and he was the first consultant to the Chelmsford Cathedral Centre for Research and Training established in 1969 by Canon R. W. Herrick. For a number of years he annually travelled to America and Canada to take part as a staff member in the working conferences of the A. K. Rice Institute in Washington, DC, and the Rosehill Institute of Human Relations in Toronto.

It can be seen that publication was an activity on which Turquet placed little value. His thrust was always towards experiencing, discovering, and articulating his thoughts. In some ways we, his colleagues, are all the beneficiaries. If he had published more, much of our understanding of group phenomena might have been captured. As it is, he gave us his energy through talking and arguing, causing us to explore for ourselves-which is the greatest of gifts he could possibly give, and which he constantly offered to those who participated in any group, small or large, which he took as a consultant.

In the last two months or so of his life he was full of sadness* at the human condition. He was angry about the National Health Service, with which he was disillusioned. He felt passionately that the Tavistock Clinic, with which he had been associated for just under half his life, had failed to move psychoanalysis from its essentially dyadic preoccupations to become a cultural tool, which he, along with others, had tried to do within the frame of group relations training. And he, at times, would despair at the inability of men and women in con- temporary society to question the authority structures and organizations of their institutions; to get behind the easily understood and taken-for-granted assumptions of group and institutional living. This had been his elected task which consumed much of his energy for much of his life.




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