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December 26, 1986

More on Attachment Behavior: T'was the Night Before Changeover

JAMA. 1986;256(24):3348. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380240038015

To the Editor.—  I found Dr Berlin's article entitled "Attachment Behavior in Hospitalized Patients"1 thought provoking. For the past three years, I have been the resident on call in a teaching hospital on the night of June 30th. These nights have taught me a lot about attachment behavior, in both patients and the medical staff.On July 1, there is more discontinuity of care than at any other time during the academic year. The patients understand that this night is different from others, as all of their usual physicians are "off service." In their minds, and mine, I am truly their physician until morning.On this night, patients extract intensity from our relationship to make up for what it lacks in duration. One night, I sat up for hours with a young patient who had started to grieve for the first time over her diagnosis of osteosarcoma, which had