Attachment, our brains, nervous systems and hormones

Authored by: Graham Music

The Routledge Handbook of Attachment: Theory

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415538268
eBook ISBN: 9781315762098
Adobe ISBN: 9781317647157


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We need to tread with caution when thinking about what light brain science can shed on human emotional development. It is true that the exciting development of new forms of brain scanning has accelerated our understanding in ways we could not have predicted. It was not long ago that all we knew about brains was almost entirely gleaned from examining those of the deceased. Since the ‘decade of the brain’ in the 1990s there has been a huge proliferation of studies and many dramatic claims have been made. In this chapter I will outline some of these, and look at findings that might illuminate our understanding of attachment and what happens in intimate relationships. However, this is done with awareness that neuroscience is in its infancy still, and that it can be too easy to claim too much, especially when insufficient care is taken in analysing the results of scans, as too often happens, as several papers have recently flagged up (e.g. McCabe and Castel 2008; Weisberg et al. 2008).

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