Alan Sroufe on Empathy as an Attachment Outcome

Safer Talk Perspectives #1

Editor’s note: The is the first in a series of posts in which we look back at past Safer Talk webinars and trainings to pull perspectives that we feel may be of particular interest to professionals in our field.

During his Safer Talk webinar conversation with host David Prescott, Alan Sroufe, author of A Compelling Idea, was asked to give an example of how attachment in infancy influences the kinds of people we become.

Attachment is a relationship concept. You learn the nature of relationships from your first attachment relationship. For example, one of my favorite findings from our research is that secure attachment predicts empathy. Now, how would what you experience in the first 12 months of life predict that you will be an empathic adult? As an infant you don’t have the cognitive capacity to recognize exactly what another person’s need is, but you get empathy ingrained in you because you’ve been in an empathic relationship.

Publication by Alan Sroufe

A Compelling Idea
How We Become the Persons We Are

From the beginning of his academic career, Alan’s motivation to pursue the study of human development was personal. Having been raised in a dysfunctional family, he wanted to know why he had the problems he did and how his mental health could be improved. A Compelling Idea is his personal story of this road to discovery.

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