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In an interview with Dr. Milton Stenn in 1977, Bowlby explained that his career started off in the medical direction as he was following in his surgeon father’s footsteps. When Bowlby gave up medicine, he took a teaching opportunity at a school called Priory Gates for six months where he worked with maladjusted children. Bowlby explained that the experience at Priory Gates was extremely influential on him “It suited me very well because I found it interesting. And when I was there, I learned everything that I have known; it was the most valuable six months of my life, really. It was analytically oriented” He further explained that the experience at Priory Gates was extremely influential to his career in research as he learned that the problems of today should be understood and dealt with at a developmental level.
Furthermore, Bowlby experienced the tragic loss of his beloved godfather during his childhood, which was another theme of separation and loss that could have contributed to his focus on separation research later on in his career.
Another point in Bowlby’s childhood that affected his pathway in his career was when his father left to fight in the First World War and when his parents sent him to boarding school. During the war his father came home once or twice a year and had little contact with him and his siblings. However, his father sent many letters addressed to the family, but Bowlby’s mother did not share any of the letters with her children and because of that Bowlby had no contact with his father. While his father was fighting in the war he was sent to boarding school at the age of ten. Later on, Bowlby revealed that he hated the idea of boarding school and would never send away his own children at the age of ten.
John Bowlby was a British psychologist, psychoanalyst and a psychiatrist. He was born in 1907 and passed away at the age od 83 in 1990. When Bowlby was young his mother would only see him and his five siblings one hour a day or more. Like many mothers from upper middle-income families, she believed that parental attention and affection would lead to dangerous spoiling of children. Because of this John Bowlby’s mother figure was his nanny who had worked for the family for ten years prior Bowlby’s birth. Unfortunately, she left when Bowlby was eight, John Bowlby was heartbroken and said, “The feeling of her leaving felt like the loss of a mother to me.” The second nanny that worked for the Bowlby family was described as “kind hearted” and “lovable” by all the children with the exception of John Bowlby who described her as “cold hearted” and her nature as “sarcastic”. Bowlby explained that this period of his childhood piqued his interest in psychology and how a child’s mind worked.
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