University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Department of Sociology Seminar Series > Complexities of classification regarding infant "fear without solution": A case study in the sociology of psychological knowledge

Complexities of classification regarding infant "fear without solution": A case study in the sociology of psychological knowledge

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“Disorganised attachment” (Main and Solomon 1990) is a classification made of infant-caregiver relationships in the Ainsworth Strange Situation, and is among the most influential assessments of infant mental health. It is made on the basis of observations of out-of-context, unexpected, or anomalous behaviors shown by an infant on reunion with their caregiver after a brief separation. Disorganised attachment has primarily been understood through the lens of the Hesse and Main’s concept of ‘fright without solution’, taken to mean that an infant experiences a conflict between a desire to approach and flee from a parent who frightens them. This talk draws from a sociological study of the disorganised classification, funded by an Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust. The project combines archive research with ethnography and interviews to critically examine the production of psychological knowledge regarding infant mental health. The paper will consider factors that have impacted the shape of this knowledge and its circulation. It will also describe unexpected lines of collaborative work at the intersection of sociology and developmental psychology that have emerged from the research.

Dr Robbie Duschinsky is University Lecturer in Social Sciences, based in the Primary Care Unit, and Fellow in Sociology at Sidney Sussex College. He holds a New Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust for study of debates around disorganised infant attachment. His research has primarily focused on children, families and theories of human behaviour. http://www.sociology.cam.ac.uk/people/academic-staff/rduschinsky

Dr Sophie Reijman’s research with Dr Robbie Duschinsky, at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, focuses on the differential causes and consequences of disorganized attachment behaviors and the application of attachment theory in clinical practice.

This talk is part of the Department of Sociology Seminar Series series.

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