How can we create strong attachments with our children and why does it matter? In this intimate, rigorous book, a mother investigates the often misunderstood science of attachment theory while navigating her relationships with her own daughter and mother.
After Bethany Saltman gave birth to her daughter, Azalea, she began to feel that there was something ‘off’ about her experience of motherhood. She loved her daughter, but would often be angry, short on patience, even unkind. She worried that her own childhood had left her unable to properly bond. So she went on a journey to better understand herself, her daughter, and their relationship through the science of attachment.
Saltman launched a broad inquiry into attachment theory, a field of developmental psychology that answers the question of why — from an evolutionary point of view — love exists between parents and children. Focusing on the data from a famous laboratory procedure, the ‘Strange Situation’, she discovered that love is unbreakable. Each and every one of us — including her — is built for it.
In this deeply researched and enormously personal account, Saltman boldly asks science to answer to love, giving readers the tools with which to interpret and understand their own connections with others, and to have better, healthier relationships, whatever their situation.
‘Strange Situation is a beautiful exploration of what makes us human — our relationships. By artfully weaving together her own experiences as a mother, daughter, and wife with the science of attachment and the fascinating life history of one of its founders, Mary Ainsworth, Saltman helps us to see ourselves — and our relationships with those we love — in an entirely new way.’
Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
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‘This extraordinary book tells the story of attachment research and summarises the key findings of half a century of research in a gripping manner. It is a book that will appeal to everyone with an interest in early relationships, the nature of bonding, as well as the history of developmental science. It is an exceptional achievement for Saltman to have created a ‘pageturner’ that reveals the excitement behind the discoveries of attachment research. A must-read for anyone interested in childhood and those who have spent their lives studying it.’
Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, Chief Executive, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
‘Strange Situation is a book that will change you. Surrender to this seductive, searching, genius hybrid of social science and memoir and you will never hug someone, laugh, or hear a child cry the same way again.’
Wednesday Martin, bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue and Untrue
‘Brilliant, brutally honest, and ultimately redemptive, Bethany Saltman’s powerful and meticulous new book, Strange Situation, made me see my own childhood and my own parenting in a fascinating new light. This book flooded me with emotions and questions, but unfolded like an epic drama. I couldn’t put it down.’
Amy Chua, bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes
‘A beautifully written account of the courage, luminosity, and sheer audacity of loving someone.’
Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Love
‘This is a unique and thoughtful book — part memoir, part social science, part biography of Ainsworth and part self-help. Readers who are battling their own demons as parents may feel grateful for Ms. Saltman’s unsparing account of herself.’
The Wall Street Journal
‘Absorbing … Saltman tells two separate stories here: One is her personal journey as a mother, the other the story of the science of attachment. But the narratives are also deeply intertwined … Saltman is at her best in her chapters on Ainsworth and the development of attachment theory.’
The Washington Post
‘[A] fascinating mix of memoir and the history of a major revolution in the scientific theory of the relationships we form in our first year of life.’ STARRED REVIEW
‘[A] fascinating deep dive into attachment theory ... Carefully researched and with copious endnotes, this is an excellent resource for anyone interested in child development.’
‘An examination of the psychological attachment between parent and child from both personal and more detached points of view ... [H]onest and complex. A thoughtful engagement with a topic that affects all parents.’
‘A decade’s worth of research informs this engaging exploration of how humans learn to delight in each other and in life itself.’
The Age, Fiona Capp