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Internal Working Model

John Bowlby’s attachment theory rests on two basic premises: (a) that mental health from the cradle to the grave is optimally promoted when individuals feel confident that trustworthy attachment figures will provide support and reassurance when needed and (b) that the security- and autonomy-enhancing function of attachment relationships turns not only on the quality of moment-to-moment interactive behaviors between a child and parent or between two adult partners but on internal working models (IWMs) that reflect a specific dyad’s habitual interaction patterns.

Bowlby preferred the somewhat mysterious-sounding term IWM, proposed by Kenneth Craik in the 1940s, to expressions such as image or map, which conjure up a static notion of representation. Working models retain the spatial, temporal, and causal relations of what is represented (what ...

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