Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Bowlby, John

  • Jeanne Stevenson-MoessnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9136

Edward John Mostyn Bowlby (1907–1990) was a pioneer in the field of attachment theory. His three-volume exposition of attachment, separation, and loss continues to impact both the fields of psychology and religion. John Bowlby depicted the infant as a “relational self” and elaborated on the significance of the maternal attachment. The term “mother figure” meant “that person to whom a child directs his [her] attachment behavior by preference” (Bowlby 1973, p. 22). By understanding the child as a connected self or a self-in-relation, John Bowlby contributed to the ongoing resistance to a cult of individualism or autonomy. He broke with psychoanalytic theory in his emphasis on the impact of real life events on the internal world of the infant in contrast to the role of fantasy as determinant of the infant’s unconscious realm.

Psychology and Religion: Attachment theory as developed by John Bowlby has offered a major theoretical framework for researchers in the psychology of religion. This...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Practical Theology, Perkins School of TheologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA