President's Message: Erikson and the Role of Attachment

From the President

We devote a lot of time at Erikson to talking about attachment and separation, exploring how children form relationships and the role of these vital connections in development. As I prepare to leave Erikson after more than 11 years, I am reminded of the prominent role attachment plays in all of our lives.

[img_caption link=”” align=”right” caption=”President Samuel J. Meisels” alt=”President Samuel J. Meisels in front of the Chicago skyline”]As a researcher, one of the first things I learned about attachment was that it is a system. Babies don’t make attachments all at once or to just “anybody.” They make them in relationship to special people—people who are reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. Their attachments are formed over time—not through single incidents, but as a result of a long series of connections.

My connection with Erikson parallels this. Beginning years before I came to work here, my relationship with Erikson has grown and deepened and become more secure, stable, and enriched. I know that my attachment to the Institute and its people will endure long after I leave the office of president.

I have attachments to the ideas we debate, the campus we built, the students we teach, the faculty and staff with whom we work, the families and communities we serve, and the alumni, trustees, and other donors who make so much of what we do possible. Taken together they represent the whole of my Erikson experience.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to be part of Erikson’s story — its history of attachments. I’m also very excited about what will come next both for Erikson and for me. I go from here to the University of Nebraska, where I will use what I’ve learned at Erikson in new ways to improve the lives of young children and families.

For Erikson, the next stage of development will be exciting, challenging, inspiring, and, as always, transforming. I feel confident that I am leaving the Institute prepared to go from strength to strength, ready for a future that will reflect the success of its past while realizing the promise of ever more important contributions to the field.

Samuel J. Meisels