A useful, thorough survey of a cornerstone theory, if somewhat dry at times.

The Attachment Bond


A clinical psychologist explains the five-decade history of attachment theory and its relation to personal development.

Shiller (Rewards for Kids!, 2003) is a licensed psychologist and an assistant clinical professor at the Yale University Child Study Center who specializes in parent-child attachment. “Attachment,” in this context, describes the quality of trust and security that a child feels for a parent, particularly in stressful situations. In this book, which is based on scholarly research but aimed at a general readership, Shiller first surveys the background, development, and principles of attachment theory. The idea that babies need to be held, looked at, and given affection sounds like common sense today, but not long ago, professional advice recommended the opposite; for example, John Watson, in 1928’s Psychological Care of the Infant Child, wrote, “If your heart is too tender…make yourself a peephole so you can see it without being seen…learn not to talk in endearing and coddling terms.” Beginning in the 1950s, researchers such as John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth did work that provided a scientific foundation for a new understanding of child development, which said that kids need a secure base from which to explore the world and handle stress. Shiller then examines how affectional bonds begin in infancy and lay the groundwork for future growth; these bonds also affect adult relationships, including how one cares for elderly parents. The book goes on to discuss the specific role of fathers, as well as practical issues regarding day care and post-divorce custody arrangements. For general students of psychology and of attachment theory in particular, this book will be a useful tool, as it offers a clearly written account that summarizes research of the last half century and more. The author’s assessments are evenhanded, and even when the writing is a little stuffy, she always conveys the importance of the content. She also provides some real-life vignettes that help make the concepts more vivid and understandable; for example, she helps readers understand crucial differences in attachment security by carefully explaining the classic “Strange Situation Procedure”—a simple but revealing test of how caregivers interact with children.

A useful, thorough survey of a cornerstone theory, if somewhat dry at times.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4985-2253-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lexington Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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