Bowlby was born in London to an upper-middle-class family. He was the fourth of six children and was brought up by a nanny in the British fashion of his class at that time. His father, Sir Anthony Bowlby, first Baronet, was surgeon to the King's Household, with a tragic history: at age five, Sir Anthony's own father (John's grandfather) was killed while serving as a war correspondent in the Opium Wars. Normally, Bowlby saw his mother only one hour a day after teatime, though during the summer she was more available. Like many other mothers of her social class, she considered that parental attention and affection would lead to dangerous spoiling of the children. Bowlby was lucky in that the nanny in his family was present throughout his childhood. When Bowlby was almost four years old, his beloved nanny, who was actually his primary caretaker in his early years, left the family. Later, he was to describe this as tragic as the loss of a mother. At the age of seven, he was sent off to boarding school, as was common for boys of his social status. In his work Separation: Anxiety and Anger, he revealed that he regarded it as a terrible time for him. He later said, "I wouldn't send a dog away to boarding school at age seven". Because of such experiences as a child, he displayed a sensitivity to children’s suffering throughout his life. However, with his characteristic attentiveness to the effects of age differences, Bowlby did consider boarding schools appropriate for children aged eight and older, and wrote, "If the child is maladjusted, it may be useful for him to be away for part of the year from the tensions which produced his difficulties, and if the home is bad in other ways the same is true. The boarding school has the advantage of preserving the child's all-important home ties, even if in slightly attenuated form, and, since it forms part of the ordinary social pattern of most Western communities today , the child who goes to boarding-school will not feel different from other children. Moreover, by relieving the parents of the children for part of the year, it will be possible for some of them to develop more favorable attitudes toward their children during the remainder." He married Ursula Longstaff, herself the daughter of a surgeon, on April 16, 1938, and they had four children, including (Sir) Richard Bowlby, who succeeded his uncle as third Baronet. Bowlby died at his summer home on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Career
Bowlby studied psychology and pre-clinical sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, winning prizes for outstanding intellectual performance. After Cambridge, he worked with maladjusted and delinquent children, then at the age of twenty-two enrolled at University College Hospital in London. At the age of twenty-six, he qualified in medicine. While still in medical school he enrolled himself in the Institute for Psychoanalysis. Following medical school, he trained in adult psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital. In 1937, aged 30, he qualified as a psychoanalyst. During World War II, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the war, he was Deputy Director of the Tavistock Clinic, and from 1950, Mental Health Consultant to the World Health Organization. Because of his previous work with maladapted and delinquent children, he became interested in the development of children and began work at the Child Guidance Clinic in London. This interest was probably increased by a variety of wartime events involving separation of young children from familiar people; these included the rescue of Jewish children by the Kindertransport arrangements, the evacuation of children from London to keep them safe from air raids, and the use of group nurseries to allow mothers of young children to contribute to the war effort. Bowlby was interested from the beginning of his career in the problem of separation and the wartime work of Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham on evacuees and Rene...
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