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

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

Saturday 13th January 2018, 10:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Institute of Group Analysis, London NW3 5BY

This event is now fully booked. 

However we have now added an additional date in February.

For more information click here.


Arturo Ezquerro, Simon Partridge and Felicity de Zulueta

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

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

Book here

Flyer here

Arturo Ezquerro, consultant psychiatrist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and group analyst, is senior lecturer, assessor and trainer at the Institute of Group Analysis, and former Head of NHS Medical Psychotherapy Services in Brent, London. He was supervised by John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic (1984-1990), has published over 60 articles and book chapters in five languages, and has authored Encounters with John Bowlby: Tales of Attachment (Routledge) and Relatos de Apego (Psimatica).

Simon Partridge, a complex trauma survivor, freelance writer and activist, has covered community broadcasting, devolved politics, the British-Irish conflict, and the psychosomatic consequences of upper-class child rearing and boarding schools. He is involved with Boarding Concern which supports boarder survivors and has authored a ground-breaking paper, ‘The Hidden Neglect and Sexual Abuse of Infant Sigmund Freud’ (Attachment, 2014).

Felicity de Zulueta, an emeritus consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy and group analyst, is former director of the Trauma Unit, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and honorary senior lecturer at King’s College London. She is a prolific author on the subjects of trauma and attachment, and has published a classic in the field, From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness (second edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).

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