Advance Praise for The Attachment Bond

Virginia M. Shiller has created an insightful summary of the intricate field of attachment theory and research, beautifully weaving the strands of developmental concepts, empirical findings, and personal, clinical, and societal implications into a concise and useful summary of this important area of knowledge. Making sense of our own attachment experiences is a powerful means to integrate the past into a more sensitive present and open our future relationships in positive and security-promoting ways. Take in these well-presented summaries and make sense of the intricacies of our lifelong developmental pathways!” (Read full endorsement)
—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author of Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human; and The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

The Attachment Bond: Affectional Ties across the Lifespan is unique in its ability to translate the many implications of attachment theory and research for the domain of parent-child relationships. There is no other book that provides a comprehensive and thoughtful compilation of the conceptual framework for attachment theory and the many decades of attachment research. Shiller provides a sophisticated yet accessible volume in which she masterfully weaves together contemporary research on evolution, attachment continuity vs. discontinuity, impact of employment on mothers, and child care and custody. Shiller’s intelligent synthesis of mountains of research makes this volume a must-read for those in child and adult psychiatry, clinical psychology, social work, teachers, and parents.” (Read full endorsement)
—Miriam Steele, The New School for Social Research

The emergence of an attachment relationship between infants and their parents is a developmental milestone with enduring significance for later adaptation. Thousands of studies on attachment have been conducted worldwide, and a recent Handbook of Attachment needed more than 1,000 pages to cover the past 5 decades of this work. Virginia Shiller has written the perfect companion to this handbook, with a compact, fluent, and balanced summary of attachment theory and research for a general readership that sheds light on pressing social issues such as the influence of daycare, the role of a couple’s relationship both during marriage and following divorce, and the associations with school achievement and with mental and physical health.” (Read full endorsement)
—Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam

“The Attachment Bond provides a wonderfully readable and clear description of the history of attachment theory and research. Virginia M. Shiller made this complex story accessible and sensible, and brought alive one of the most important scientific paradigms of our day. Bravo!”
—Arietta Slade, Yale University

“This careful and well-informed book sets the evolution of a major theory in developmental psychology within the historical context of child care lore and practice in the mid-twentieth century. Virginia Shiller does not shun spelling out its implications for policy makers, or making recommendations to the judicial, educational, and health professions involved with children today.”
—Tirril Harris, King's College London; vice-chair of the International Attachment Network

“The Attachment Bond: Affectional Ties across the Lifespan, by Virginia Shiller is a very well-written and engaging book, providing an overview of attachment theory and research from its inception to the present day. Dr. Shiller hoped to give the reader a clear, concise, straight-forward, yet comprehensive view of the attachment system across the lifespan. And she succeeds admirably in this goal, filling a gap in the literature for anyone who wishes to teach or learn about attachment. It... is far more “user friendly” than the Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research and Clinical Applications (2016), but it is not superficial or overly simple in its approach. I look forward to using this book in teaching child and adolescent psychiatry trainees about the field, and think it would be equally helpful for students in psychology at both graduate and undergraduate levels.” (Read full endorsement)
—Judith A. Crowell, MD, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stony Brook Universit endorsementy.

Reviews of The Attachment Bond

This book is for the reader interested in an approachable yet nuanced review of the lifespan implications of attachment bonds and how this body of knowledge itself has developed over time. Shiller synthesizes over a half-century of important research, covering many core themes: continuity and discontinuity, the transmission gap, affect regulation and mentalization, psychobiology, and stress responses. Managing to be straightforward while not shying away from complexity or vulnerability, The Attachment Bond offers a “secure” base from which we might further explore.

— American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Overall, this is a book which offers great insight into the formation and reformation of attachment across the lifespan, with a particular focus on childhood and youth. As with much research and evidence on attachment theory, this book focuses on the mother–child dyad, which Shiller recognises as a limitation in working with a wide interpretation of the term ‘care-giver’. Furthermore, there is a focus on the family unit being a mother and a father, which again is recognised as attracting obvious limitations in its application.

This is an insightful and informative book which draws on research internationally. When thinking about the impact of early-life experiences on the emerging adult mind, the overwhelming message from this book is that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Reviewed, on the rear of Shiller’s book, by seminal writers in the area of attachment theory such as Siegel, Steele and Van Ijzendoorn clearly positions this book as a top read for professionals and academics.

— British Journal of Social Work

Dr. Virginia M. Shiller takes the reader on a lifelong journey exploring the attachment bond, from birth to death, in The Attachment Bond—Affectional Ties Across the Lifespan. She presents an overview of attachment theory, incorporating the theories of Bowlby, Ainsworth, Freud, Watson, Harlow, and even Benjamin Spock. Embracing a storytelling approach, Shiller weaves together theory and examples in an easy to read, yet comprehensive volume....

In The Attachment Bond, Shiller provides an extensive summary of attachment research that has occurred over the past century, educating her readers through clearly written and comprehensive research reviews in conjunction with real-life vignettes....

Shiller has offered comprehensive overview of attachment theory and has provided us, through storytelling, an understanding of how theory and life intertwine. If Bowlby were alive today, he would be proud of Shiller.


Attachments shape relationships, defining their nature, evolution, and quality; but although there is a wealth of research and information about this phenomenon, until now there's been no single book synthesizing this data to present a clear foundation title on the subject. 

Licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor Virginia M. Shiller's purpose in writing The Attachment Bond is to make this information accessible to a wider audience than psychologists alone by taking data, research, and clinical experiences and combining them into a comprehensive, simple, accessible presentation.

Chapters thus translate attachment theory's intricacies with a lay audience in mind, making accessible the latest data and studies surrounding personal relationships and how they evolve from early childhood into adulthood as they trace the history of the study of attachment theory.

Vignettes cement and round out these studies and provide accessible and personal links between theory and real-world experience, considering both the observations of professional psychologists and clients who serve as examples of attachment theory in action.

From questions of whether the security of attachment predicts behavior problems during early childhood and risk factors associated with disadvantaged family structures to an extensive NICHD study following over 1,000 children from infancy to age 15, assessing the development of their social skills and the influence of parents and teachers during the process, The Attachment Bond moves beyond singular environments to consider attachment insecurity, bonds, parenting philosophies, and social influence.

The juxtaposition of research results and studies with case studies and the attention to explaining the impact of these studies and their review on the overall attachment theory's development presumes no prior psychological expertise. While psychologists will likely be the primary readers of The Attachment Bond, it's important to note that a secondary audience of non-experts, from parents to early childhood educators, will find it equally accessible.

The result is a solid, research-based overview that is recommended for psychologists, parents, and educators alike, representing a surprisingly accessible synthesis of study and real-world applications as it probes the latest developments in attachment theory.

(Read full review)
— D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

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.

(Read full review)
— Kirkus Reviews

Attuned, responsive mothers are most likely to be happy women who feel supported in their role. Women who wish to work outside the home but are unable for one reason or another to do so may well parent differently than women who choose to stay home,” writes Shiller. How a mother parents a child, and how available and responsive she is to the child’s needs forms the basis for the attachment pattern that results. What the child takes away from this experience is a working model of relationships. Working models, Shiller writes, work outside of conscious awareness, and yet influence feelings, cognition, behavior, and attention and memory.

(Read full review)
— Claire Nana, Psych Central