Duniec E, Raz M
Hist Psychiatry 2011 Mar;22(85 Pt 1):93-107
In 1951 John Bowlby, British psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist, published his now famous report, Maternal Care and Mental Health, commissioned by the World Health Organization. In this report, Bowlby coined the term 'maternal deprivation', which quickly permeated into Western psychiatry and psychology. The implications of Bowlby's writings, while widely criticized and contested, generated a considerable amount of research and brought about significant changes in perceptions of separation between children and their mothers. This article examines the origins of the 'maternal deprivation' hypothesis, focusing on how the deficiency theory of disease influenced psychiatric discourse, and framed Bowlby's theory of maternal care. We argue that developments in paediatric medicine, and particularly in the field of nutritional deficiencies, provided Bowlby a prototype for conceptualizing his early views on the psychological needs of children and the development of psychopathology.