Immigration from an attachment perspective
Yolanda van Ecke (University of Amsterdam), 2005, 33, 467–476.

Images from around the globe have brought the topic of immigration to the fore in recent weeks. Images of children and parents separated at the US–Mexico border; images of ships carrying refugees and migrants from Africa searching for safe harbor in Europe; and images of politicians struggling with policy making on this emotionally charged issue.

Here at SBP we are encouraged to see authors frequently engaging with this topic and assessing the way immigration impacts on individuals’ lives, emotions, and behaviors. In 2005, van Ecke published this article on immigration from an attachment perspective. It is an important analysis of the impact of separation and loss on the lives of those who move countries for a variety of reasons. van Ecke writes from the perspective of a scholar as well as an immigrant, with empathy for the overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness, or grief that can result from such a major dislocation from home.

Using attachment theory as a foundation, van Ecke looks at the impact of both an initial separation in the move to a new country and the ongoing sense of loss being separated from family and the familiar at home. She argues that immigrants are more likely to have an insecure or avoidant attachment style because of ongoing smaller episodes of anxiety or loss that accrue over time. In a recent article Rosenberg (2018)* touched on similar themes of separation and attachment, considering how the removal of children from attachment figures may create separation anxiety that lasts a long time. 

Articles like these give us a way of understanding the world around us, and the issues that are prominent in the news and social media. Confronting topics can be assessed objectively and real-world application can help the most vulnerable in our society. 

Our latest journal issue contains three articles on immigration: migrant identity, return migration for university students, and migrants’ adaptation to life in cities. Please check them out.  

* Rosenberg, D. (2018, June 6). Why long-term separation from parents harms kids. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Allex Cheyne | Managing Editor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal