Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment by Bethany Saltman
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In Strange Situation Bethany Saltman explores her own attachment history and the history of attachment theory itself. She focuses primarily on the work of Mary Ainsworth and the development of the strange situation as a tool for measuring infant attachment.
About the Author:
Bethany Saltman is a popular author who set out to understand attachment when she felt herself struggling to connect with her newborn daughter. She uses her research skills to dig into the history of attachment as we know it. You can learn more about her here or follow her on Instagram.
What We Loved:
Ms. Saltman weaves her own journey in throughout the book. She shares candidly about her own struggles with attachment her fears about how that was impacting her daughter. This isn’t simply a memoir though. She went beyond her story and did a deep dive into attachment, even going so far as being trained to administer the adult attachment inventory. This book has a great blend of history, science and personal experience.
I really found the history of attachment theory fascinating. Understanding the context of one of the theories I work by, seemed to give it more depth. I also appreciated the focus on one of the women pioneers in our field since they tend to be glossed over. I have to admit I felt really jealous as I read about her pouring over Mary Ainsworth’s writings and belongings.
What We Didn’t
As a therapist with a decent amount of training in attachment, I don’t think I gained any new clinical knowledge about attachment. The book was primarily about Ms. Saltman’s experience and the development of the theory, with the majority of the focus being on Mary Ainsworth. I did really enjoy it but if you are looking for current research and attachment focused interventions you would be better served with Dr. Sue Johnson’s book, Attachment Theory in Practice.
I’m conflicted on whether I would recommend it to clients struggling to attach to their children. I think Ms. Saltman’s story and the science she presents could be really helpful for them but the book is a bit long (363 pages) to recommend to overwhelmed new parents unless I know they are big readers. However, if you’re an attachment junky like me, I think you’ll really enjoy Strange Situation. It’s an interesting read and gives context to some of the most important ideas we work by today.
I definitely enjoyed my time with Strange Situation though and really liked getting such an intimate portrait of Mary Ainsworth.
Many therapists enjoy recommending books to their clients to supplement the work they are doing together. We also use books to help ourselves grow as people and practitioners. Remember though that books are never a replacement for real human connection or for therapy when it’s needed. If you find yourself needing a therapist, a great place to start is Psychology Today. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.