IAN ANNUAL REPORT 2014-2015
Following last year's AGM, where two of our most faithful members Cassie Cooper and Lorna Saville, stepped down after years of outstanding support, three new members joined the Executive Committee, John Adams, Julia Benard, along with Deborah Rodriguez who is also International Co-ordinator.
We have had a stimulating programme of seminars this year and audiences have sometimes had to squeeze in to cope with this. Starting in February with Chris Scanlon's thought-provoking talk on Why do you treat me this way?Psychosocial and clinical perspectives on (de)liberating self-harm and other forms of ‘reflexive violence’ we explored the role of social and historical influences on ‘personality disorders’ and other psychosocial discourses that violently shove the blame, particularly those relating to care of self and others, into socially excluded individuals.
In April Mario Marrone, Kimaya Crolla-Younger,Marcia Karp and Martin Jelfs (who focussed on sexuality as an embodied spiritual perspective) gave a combined all-day presentation on How Early Attachment Experiences Influence Adult Sexual Attitudes. The strong psycho drama component in the afternoon brought new life to the event, filling out the useful but more theoretical contribution from the morning.
In June, Jeremy Holmes returned to give a new workshop with stimulating discussion on Attachment , Secular Spirituality and the Imagination. Once again in the second half of the morning after coffee he ran one of his “dual supervision in a large group sessions” and we were lucky to get two volunteer supervisees from the audience with very interesting cases, one a child.
In September, Tirril Harris spoke on The Wounded Healer: asking Does the concept of Earned Security of Attachment contribute to understanding of the therapeutic process?
She talked of her research on the protective effects against depression of emotional support from the ordinary social network members and described a study of volunteer befriending where those befrienders who could be described as having “earned security” both gave more sensitive responsive support and had more of their depressed befrienders who recovered after 12 months. Earned security involved surviving a childhood rated neglectful or abusive by the CECA measure (Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse) with a secure attachment style, good self-esteem and good coping style. Although befriending differs from psychotherapy the findings do suggest a correspondence with the notion of therapists' practice benefitting from their own wounds.
In November Sue Gerhardt widened the overall perspective of these seminars with her presentation Creating a Secure Society: How Can Attachment Theory Help? By the end of the morning we had come to agree with her that we could use our understanding of human development and the processes of attachment to develop a more coherent narrative about our public social relationships.
One of the highlights of the year was when IAN hosted a book launch of the second edition of Mario Marrone's “Attachment and Interaction” one Sunday evening in July at Mario's consulting room address in Harley Street. Tirril Harris spoke of how prescient the first edition had been in 1998, pin-pointing, among other themes, Mario's identification of certain hyper-orthodox therapy techniques as iatrogenic. The evening was lifted by some excellent wine and rounded off with Marcia Karp leading a hilarious, but educative, psychodrama comment on the book.
Another exciting development this year has been the decision that IAN-UK will run an on-line course on Attachment Theory based on the course that was recently launched by IAN-IberoAmericano with overall guidance by Manuel Esbert and Psimatica Publishers (Madrid), and elaborated by Elsa Woflberg. Deborah Rodriguez is going to play the leading role in this English version.
IAN-UK was better represented at the IAN-IberoAmerican conference this autumn, held at the San Carlos University Hospital (Madrid) when Deborah Rodriguez presented a paper on Comparing Clinical and Empirical Methods in the Investigation of Attachment across the Life Cycle and Mario Marrone presented his new book in Spanish “Attachment and Motivation: a Psychoanalytic Perspective”, published by Psimatica. The book was also discussed by a panel in a pre-conference meeting held at Casa de Americas (Madrid). It is regrettable that language barriers still impede us from fully benefiting from each other's events.
Plans for the development of SEAS (the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies) moved forward this year. It incorporates many well-known workers from the USA from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). However decisions are still in process as to including the RIA (a Latin American Attachment group), and the APV (Associacao Portuguesa de Vinculacao). Mauricio Cortina, in Baltimore, an early member of IAN, has many connections with the various organisations involved and is in touch with SEAS about this. There are plans to form an International Attachment Consortium, which would be a sort of federation grouping IAN UK, IAN IA, RIA and SEAS; although discussions are proceeding very slowly.
Before closing we have to report the sad news that one of our earliest members, Dorothy Heard, died shortly before the February 2015 Annual General Meeting. Already a well-known Attachment Theory author and member of Bowlby's research group at the Tavistock in the 1970s, she moved to Leeds when she married Brian Lake in 1979. Together they wrote “The Challenge of Attachment for Caregiving “(1997) and ran an Attachment Seminar which attracted participants from all over the North. After the IAN international conference in Birmingham in 2001 Dorothy made special efforts to come down to London to present the work she was involved in as she and Brian and Una McCluskey prepared their book “Attachment Therapy for adults and adolescents: Theory and Practice post Bowlby” which she launched at the IAN AGM in 2010. In addition, for five years she was a member of our Executive. We shall miss her clear-thinking, humane presence.
Mario Marrone, Chair, Tirril Harris Vice-chair.