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Maternal de-adaption and Alexithymia

Uploaded by Ganymede on Dec 07, 2002

According to Jan Abrams (1996), "In the successful version of the mother-child relationship, 'the mother begins to emerge from her state of primary maternal preoccupation [towards her infant] and remembers who she is in terms of being an independent individual in the world. She is recovering, both physically and emotionally, from the last important stages of pregnancy, giving birth, and being merged in identification with her infant's absolute dependence on her.

The infant requires his mother to de-adapt, which is part and parcel of her remembering herself. This "failure" on the mother's part introduces the "reality principle" to the child and is part of the disillusioning process, related to weaning. By "failing" in this way, the mother, unknowingly, allows the infant to feel and experience his needs. This "failure" contributes to his developing sense of self -- a self that is Me and separate from his mother." [italics mine] (a)

If, however, the mother cannot gradually "fail" in the way Abrams describes (allowing the infant's affective life to become self-regulated) then the infant's drive to self realization of these potentials is impeded. Donald Winnicott (1960) words the child's dilemma in the following way:

…the infant who has begun to become separate from the mother has no means of gaining control of all the good things that are going on. The creative gesture, the cry, the protest, all the little signs that are supposed to produce what the mother does, all these things are missing, because the mother has already met the need just as if the infant were still merged with her and she with the infant. In this way the mother, by being a seemingly good mother, does something worse that castrate the infant. The latter is left with two alternatives: either being in a permanent state of regression and of being merged with the mother.

We see therefore that in infancy and in the management of infants there is a very subtle distinction between the mother's understanding of her infant's need based on empathy, and her change over to an understanding based on something in the infant or small child that indicates need. (a)

Transitional objects:


'Part of the de-adaption process involves facilitating the child's use of transitional objects to symbolize inner object relations and their affective dynamics. In the case of the mother who is reluctant to de-adapt from her maternal providence; 'It has been observed also that some mothers interfere...

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Uploaded by:   Ganymede

Date:   12/07/2002

Category:   Science And Technology

Length:   14 pages (3,164 words)

Views:   2002

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