Virtual Event: Andrew Solomon in conversation with Bethany Saltman about her book Strange Situation and parenting in these strange times

May 14, 2020, 6:30 PM

Bethany Saltman presents Strange Situation: A Mother's Journey into the Science of Attachment, in conversation with Andrew Solomon. Join the crowdcast here!

Purchase a copy of Bethany Saltman's Strange Situation here.

Purchase a copy of Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree here.

A full-scale investigation of the controversial and often misunderstood science of attachment theory, inspired by the author’s own experience as a parent and daughter.

When professional researcher and writer Bethany Saltman gave birth to her daughter, Azalea, she loved her deeply but felt as if something was missing. Looking back at her lonely childhood, dangerous teenage years, and love-addicted early adulthood, Saltman thought maybe she was broken.

Then she discovered the science of attachment, the field of psychology that explores the question of why—from an evolutionary point of view—love exists between parents and children. Saltman went on a ten-year journey visiting labs, archives, and training sessions, while learning the meaning of “delight” from Mary Ainsworth, one of psychology’s most important but unsung researchers, who died in 1999.

Saltman went deep into the history and findings from Ainsworth’s famous laboratory procedure, the Strange Situation, which, like an X-ray, is still used today by scientists around the world to catch a glimpse of the internal workings of attachment. In this simple twenty-minute procedure, a baby and a caregiver enter an ordinary room with two chairs and some toys. During a series of comings and goings, a trained observer studies the minutiae of the pair’s back-and-forth with each other.

Through the science of attachment, what Saltman discovered was a radical departure from everything she thought she knew—about love and about her own family, her story, and herself. She was far from broken—she saw that love is too powerful to ever break.

Strange Situation is a scientific, lyrical, life-affirming exploration of love. Not only will readers be taken on an emotional ride through one mother’s reckoning with her own past and her family’s future, but they will also be given the tools with which to better understand their own life histories and their relationships today.

“A profound and beautiful work . . . searingly honest, brazenly fresh, and startlingly rich.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

BETHANY SALTMAN is an author, award-winning editor, and researcher. Her work can be seen in magazines like the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, ParentsTown & Country, and many others. Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey Into the Science of Attachment (Ballantine, April 21, 2020) is her first book. Bethany also serves as a bestselling book partner and in-demand mindfulness mentor, helping writers and entrepreneurs at all stages of the creative process envision and execute their projects, including book proposals, books, content development, big ideas, messaging, and more. In 1992, Bethany graduated from Antioch College where she was one of the architects of the nation’s first Affirmative Consent Policy. She went on to receive her M.F.A in poetry from Brooklyn College in 1994, where she studied with Allen Ginsberg. A longtime Zen student, Bethany is devoted to the fine art and game-changing effects of paying attention. She lives in a small town in the Catskills with her family.

ANDREW SOLOMON, Ph.D., is a Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and past President of PEN America. He writes and lectures on politics, psychology, LGBTQ rights, and the arts. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and the New York Times. His Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was chosen as one of the New York TimesTen Best Books of 2012. His subsequent Far and Away: How Travel Can Change the World, has been named a New York Times Notable Book. He previously wrote The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, which won the 2001 National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He made an award-winning film of Far from the Tree and produced an audiobook, New Family Values. He lives with his husband and son in New York and London; he also has a daughter with a college friend.