Sexual abuse: a perversion of attachment? (pt. III)

This event is a conjoint project, as part of a developing collaboration between the Bowlby Centre (BC), the Institute of Group Analysis (IGA), Supporting Relationships and Families (SRF and the International Attachment Network (IAN).

Saturday 17th February 2018, 10:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Institute of Group Analysis, London NW3 5BY

Speakers: Arturo Ezquerro, Simon Partridge and Felicity de Zulueta

Chair: Mark Linington, Chair of Bowlby Centre’s Executive Committee.


This event is now fully booked. 

We are sorry the event is sold out, but would be happy to put your name on a waiting list if there is a cancellation or if we run another workshop on this subject in the future. To be added to the waiting list you can email your details to



John Bowlby (1979) joined the voices that denounced the high incidence of incest and its damaging effects on children – and he unequivocally described this as sexual exploitation of the children. There is a parallel between child sexual abuse and professional sexual abuse. He was very concerned about the unethical behaviour of some of his colleagues and referred to this as a “hot potato”. Bowlby was not totally against physical touch in psychotherapy as a gesture of support, but he was mindful that it can turn sexual. He emphasised that therapists have a special duty to protect vulnerable patients, for which it is crucial to understand the difficulties in their attachment history. 

Bowlby (1988) considered that Freud’s retreat from his 1897 seduction theory (replacing it with a theory of infantile sexuality based on the myth of Oedipus Rex) was a disaster which held back a much needed social awareness of the problem for many decades, and contributed to a dreadfully ignorant and unhelpful clinical practice with the victims of sexual abuse. Bowlby further stated that Freud seemed to have been unable to grasp the centrality of attachment, in childhood and in therapy. Not grasping the nature of the unmet attachment needs that patients bring to the consulting room may increase the risk of sexual boundary violations (Zulueta 2006; Ezquerro, 2017). That is sexual exploitation of a vulnerable person by someone who is in a position of power. 

This workshop aims to increase awareness of the problem in psychotherapy and other institutions, and to explore the value of attachment-based interventions.The large group shall provide wider opportunities for reflection.



10:30 AM Registration and coffee

10:55 AM Sexual abuse: a perversion of attachment? (AE)

11:30 AM Why the Weinstein sexual abuse scandal crossed the Atlantic so easily (SP)

12:00 PM What no-one wants to know? (FZ)

12:30 PM Lunch (provided)

1:30 PM Large Group convened by Maria Canete (IGA)

3:00 PM Light refreshments (ends 3:30 PM)


IGA Members and Students £19
Bowlby Centre Members and Students £19
IAN Members £19

Public £49


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