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Attachment and Human Development Center

Mauricio Cortina, MD, Director

The mission of the Attachment and Human Development Center (AHDC), founded and directed by Mauricio Cortina, is prevention and public education, supporting training programs within the Washington School of Psychiatry, and research. Programs and initiatives that further these goals are announced as they are developed. The Center also invites speakers and scholars who are making substantial contributions in the fields of attachment and human development. An advisory board, composed of leaders in the field, can be called upon to assist in these endeavors.

From its inception, attachment theory has had a strong empirical and observational base that has developed over the past few decades, expanding the theory in new directions. The AHDC will build on this tradition of rigorous scholarship, of testing concepts and methods, and of cross-fertilization from related fields that has kept attachment theory a vibrant field of study. This spirit of openness is also consistent with the best traditions of the Washington School of Psychiatry.

Research Interests

I am interested in studying the relationship between attachment, defined as a system adapted to seek protection and care from attachment figures, and intersubjectivity, defined as system of communication that is intuitive and automatic in nature. Our species advanced intersubjective abilities allowing humans to be able to understand intentions, gestures and emotions in competitive as well as in cooperative situations. As the work of Michael Tomasello has shown, our cooperative abilities far surpass what is observed in primates and put us in a unique evolutionary path. These advanced intersubjective abilities are sometimes referred to a Theory of Mind, or in the attachment literature they are referred to as mentalization. More sophisticated modes of communication coevolved with greater degrees of communication.

More broadly, I am interested in the enormously important prosocial motives, the caregiving, attachment and cooperative social engagement systems played during human development and during the evolution of our species.

Together with Giovanni Liotti, I am interested in the clinical implications of how this evolutionary-developmental perspective and more generally, in how this new paradigm changes our view of human nature and sheds light on the origin of culture and language.

Advisory Board

Jude Cassidy, PhD
Mary Dozier, PhD
Sonia Gojman de Millan, PhD
Giovanni Liotti, MD
Joseph Lichtenberg, MD
Mario Marrone, MD
Robert Marvin, PhD
Salvador Millán, MD
Alan Sroufe, PhD


  1. Attachment Is About Safety and Protection, Intersubjectivity Is About Sharing and Social Understanding — The Relationships between Attachment and Intersubjectivity
    Mauricio Cortina, MD
    Attachment and Human Development Center, Washington School of Psychiatry, Washington, DC
    Giovanni Liotti, MD

    Association for the Research of Attachment and Development, Rome
  2. Cooperación, Intersubjetividad y Apego
    Mauricio Cortina, Giovanni Liotti, Margo Silberstein
  3. An evolutionary outlook on motivation: Implications for the clinical dialogue
    Mauricio Cortina, Giovanni Liotti
  4. Heinz Kohut and John Bowlby: The Men and Their Ideas
    Elizabeth Carr

    Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Washington, DC
    Mauricio Cortina
  5. The Use of Attachment Theory in the Clinical Dialogue with Patients
    Mauricio Cortina, MD