Volume 28, Issue 2, Fall 2014
A Philosophical Concept of Deprivation and Its Use in the Attachment-Focused Treatment of Violence
Theories in both contemporary psychotherapy and ancient philosophy associate deprivation with wrongdoing and suffering, but operate with different understandings of deprivation. The article will focus on two concepts of deprivation, one psychological and the other one ontological, as advanced by Bowlby in attachment theory, and Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE). In attachment theory deprivation is something one suffers as a result of the others’ actions (receipt of insensitive caregiving in early childhood); it has neuropsychological effects, it relates to violent behaviour later in life, and it is therapeutically treated mainly by emotional sensory work directed at attaining self-regulation. Understanding deprivation as Augustine does (i.e., diminishment of a being’s inner unity and order caused by one’s exercise of will) introduces a distinctive philosophical view on formation and can inform a type of reflective-behavioural work centred on forming impaired volitional and emotional capacities, and on reclaiming agency and responsibility both for what can be called self-deprivation and for ways to counter deprivation in offenders and victims.