Dr. Sergio Romano, Psychology Psychotherapy, Psychodrama

Il bambino nella prospettiva psicoanalitica: the different points of view.

Il bambino nella prospettiva psicoanalitica: i diversi punti di vista.

Sergio Romano



The beginning of the adaptation of the family to the child coincides with the beginning of a better understanding of themselves by parents, in that way ta start to get some idea of ​​the psychic life of adults. Until now seemed satisfied that the parents knew by instinct how to educate their children, although a German saying says the opposite: "It is easier to become a father than to be".

Sandor Ferenczi, 1921


References historical and theoretical

That the child was at the center of psychoanalysis, is visible from the very first works of Freud. But this is more of a concept than a real baby. Need to wait for work Anna Freud, then Spitz, Kriss et al. and then J. Bowlby, to get direct observation.

Anna Freud

He stressed the importance of 'direct observation, which clearly highlights the Role of the Environment development, thing that differentiates psychoanalysis applied to the child than for the adult. He looks so even now in new dimensions, that is adaptive to the conflicts and those reactive. Introduces the concept of lines of development reflecting the fact that the child's development is not a smooth process, but contains within itself the potential for distortion. Harmonious development, homogeneous, is more theoretical than anything else.

Melanie Klein

Highlighted two key points: the instinctual dualism, life / death, from which the internal conflicts and the precocity the instinctual dualism that exists from birth, before life and has been organizing the early stages of development. Referred to as Io arcaico and archaic superego to explain the immediate conflict of the inner life of the child. They operate then two specific mental mechanisms that generate the psychic apparatus and objects. The first instinctual experiences (species feeding) serve to organize these psychic operations, so the child introjects suffering tied to a piece of good object, that will be the basis for the establishment of the first I fragmented internal infant. The bad experiences, related to the death drive, will be projected out. Around this, I will organize the, the not-I, Internal / External, fragment of good object, fragment of bad object. However, the death instinct occurs continuously and forces the baby to screen out the bad experiences and to internalize the good ones, so it is a bad object, external persecutor from which to protect. E 'of the preform'Io arcaico. For this to happen, it is necessary that the child can tolerate the frustrations that reality imposes. The differences between a child and the other for Klein are hereditary. This phase is the position paranoid schizo-. Then we will have the 'projective identification, the child identifies with fragments of objects screened out; splitting, idealization and negation. In the paranoid-schizoid position will follow (between 12 e i 18 months) the depressive position.

Psychoanalysis genetic

Eak Mahler, are the main exponents of this school, that is placed in the vein of the American school of psychoanalysis or schools Ego Psychology Hartman. This current distinguishes two types of processes: those maturation, that does not depend on the environment, belong to the estate; those development, which depend on the evolution of object relations and consequently from the contribution of the environment.

Spitz was one of the first to use direct observation of the child to find and describe the stages of the child's psychogenetic.

Margareth Mahler

Study the interaction with the mother and child identifies different stages that lead to the identification: symbiotic phase, where there is absolute dependence to the mother, is a fusion Psychosomatic, illusion of omnipotence by the child. Autism primary physiological (di narcissism Freud), a poi second period symbiotic (from three to ten months), during which the child begins to perceive the origin of the external sources of gratification.

Process of separation-individuation; begins between eight and ten months to 2,5/3 years.
Party with a partial shift between the libidinal investment 10 e i 18 months, in a time in which the drive of the child, him out of the sphere Symbiotic, there is a sort of "hatching" (Mahler). Then, a little further, a second more massive displacement of the self and ego function: traction, perception, learning. Fluctuations and uncertainties still separate access to the concept of permanent object, in sense piagetian (8/10 months), from access to the notion of object permanence libidinal. The latter (after 2,5 months) indicates that the maternal image is available for the child intrapsychically, gives support, comfort, stability. Mahler describes also the unsteadiness in the process of identification with periods of rapprochement, when the child are doubts. Especially if the child has developed ambivalence towards libidinal object. And the chi, Mahler part to describe the failures of development as a pathogenetic origin of psychosis. From a methodological point of view, his greatest contribution consists in 'have systematized the experimental field of observation infant developing a situation and a method standardized.

J. Bowlby

While the works of Mahler are centered on the effects of maternal presence, those John Bowlby, are centered on lack of maternal care. In his first book Maternal care and mental health of the child (1951), he defines as essential to the close and deep that the child needs to engage with the mother figure. Through this link, mother and son can get satisfaction. Locate a particularly critical period between six months and three / four years. In the case of bereavement, the child reacts with a conduct which he divides into three phases: protest, despair, aloofness. Here he was in sharp disagreement with Spitz, which did not accept that equiparasse mourning adult with one child. Even Anna Freud was against about, claiming that he did not sufficiently take into account the role of the ego, of its strength and its adaptive capacity.

Bowlby developed a theoretical synthesis based on attachment. He used data from ethology, from theory control systems, cognitivist theories. Which The term attachment is opposite to that of dependence, that for behaviorists indicated the passive link of the child with the mother, as it is different from the model Kleinian mainly predetermined by intrapsychic and unconscious fantasies. In fact, the model focuses on the dynamics of interactive bowlbyano, interpsichiche.

Donald Winnicot

He was not interested in defining historical landmarks in the development, for him at the beginning a newborn baby can not live without the mother, why is it that depends. For him, the mother is the first prey primary maternal preoccupation, a kind of normal disease that provides the ability to impersonarsi in children and meet their needs; if you can not let go of this thing, threatens to become a mother-therapist that instead of leaving care the child to do experience. This thing was born during pregnancy and lasts a few weeks later and then goes off, when the mother realizes not be totally rewarding for the child, but a mere "good-enough mother "...

Winnicot, distingue tre ruoli the maternal function: Holding (support, maintenance), Handling (body care, cleaning) and Object Presenting, namely the ability to make available to the child object exactly when needed, neither before nor after, which gives the child the illusion of omnipotence to have created the world around him, transforming the interior from good enough to perfect. The child responds well to small deficiencies of the mother, disillusionment with moderate, which is required, for the child to fit replacing the illusion with a primitive 'intermediate area, area of Primary Creativity, that Winnicott called "transitional area”, whose most characteristic feature is the '"transitional object ". It is neither inside nor outside; is real, precedes the establishment of the test of reality and represents the breast or the object of the primary relationship. Winnicott also outlines the notion of "False know ", a sort of barrier between the true self, hidden, protected, e l'ambiente, if the latter is hostile, intrusive. It is not creative, does not produce feelings of reality, marks the boundary between normal and pathological development.

Joffe, Sandler and Bollard, more recently, continued the work of Anna Freud, looking inter alia, to establish an index to better investigate the psyche of a child (Bollard e Sandler).

Joffe e Sandler, tried to find in the early development of the child, structuring the complex psychopathological the first basic affective experiences taking into account the environment. Per the Sandler, the establishment of relations is a search for the primary relationship with a good object, that is, the child tries to "maintain close relationships, joyful and happy with her good basic affective, with a constellation of pleasure, well-being and feelings of safety”. At the same time he tries to get rid of the other object primary affective, that to which they are connected sorrow and pain. For they are the two basic affective states to organize and direct object the establishment of rations.

Wilfred Bion

Sviluppo le theory Kleniane, but its assumptions are by his analytic work with adult patients regressed, and not from observations on children. For him, the primitive thoughts are based on sensory impressions or emotional experiences primitive and poor quality, bad objects which the child is to be freed. The thought arises for him, by the emergence of a correspondence between a primitive concept and a frustration. When frustration tolerance is sufficient, the child uses mechanisms that modify the experience and result in alpha elements; tolerance without the child can only escape experience, through the expulsion of Elementi beta.

Alfa, are sensory impressions and emotional experiences primitive, (those that Joffe and Sandler called with basic) and form the dreams, unconscious thoughts, memories. Beta, you do not need to think, are things in themselves, should be deported through projective identification. The mother works as a container of the sensations of the newborn and its ability to Reverie allows it to accommodate the projections-the baby's needs by giving them a meaning. The depressive position, allows then to reintegrate in the psyche of the child the dissociated elements through the previous phase. The evolution of these thoughts leads to more recent studies in which the interaction between partners is evaluated in the observation. Is that analyzed the relationship that unites the two partners. The first studies come from two different environments: the systemic approach, and studies of the relationship between mother and child.

The first argues that the child is not passive, at the mercy of mother's care, but it is a partner in the relationship, able to orient. The kid is vulnerable, but also has expertise; This means the ability to use his sensory and motor abilities to act or groped to act on the environment.

Finally, Bion's theories on the basic assumptions will be of great help in reading the attitudes that the group at times assumes.

Brazelton (1960), argued that the child is born with excellent tools to report his needs or his gratitude; instead of perceiving it as Clay ductile, it considers "a being of great strength". Other forms of expertise that it has are: sight, Hearing the motility ... (Imitation, extend the hands ...). It 'important to remember that Thomas Berry Brazelton, pediatrician born in U.S. 1918, is the inventor of the note NBAS, a rating scale of infant behavior, conceived in the mid-50s. Even in those years, consider the child as a social being prepared to interact with the person who takes care of him to evoke the kind of care necessary for its survival, was certainly revolutionary and helped restore dignity to the newborn, which was studied by comparing it to a animal decerebration, if it were only equipped with reflex responses to external stimuli. At the bottom Brazelton has simply given scientific dignity to what mothers already knew: that a newborn from the first moments is different from others, has its own personality and can touch, sniff, hear, and watch, can be comforted by holding it in her arms, holding it in his arms and rocking him, speaking and cantandogli; that his cries may have a different cause and different effects and that its adaptation to the new world also depends on the way it is cared for.

Observed interaction

We must remember that most of the theories on the psychological development, individuals considered separate from the social and physical environment in general. Suffice it to point out how to Piaget, development was essentially an individual matter. This way of thinking was in line with a common thought, in the United States in particular, he saw the individual as a sort of solitary explorer; psychologists also followed this trend, all dragged by a vision of the individual Romanesque, where the environment can at best facilitate or constrain the development. This view was not shared in other social contexts, in particular the east, where, instead, many scholars contextualists, primo fra tutti Vigotskij, had a vision diametrically opposed.

Lev Semyonovich Vigotskij (1896-1933), began his work in a systematic way in 1924, when Alexander Luria, let him in the Institute of Psychology in Moscow.

He made his own and extended to psychology theories of Marx and Engels on the economy and politics.

What matters most here, however, we, is to highlight some principles.

Instead of concent on the child, the contextualists considered the child in a context: which, the child, the object and the environment are fundamental characteristics in. The background plasma, affects the child and the child, very important thing, affects the environment. Today, all those who have a contextualist approach, beyond the differences and new theories, share the belief that Evolutionary psychology has neglected the social contexts in which development takes place.

A significant example is the well-known Strange-Situation, placed in the perspective Bowlby, which consists in the observation of the reactions of the child in the moment of separation from the attachment figure; however, all made in a controlled environment, protected, which made it possible to describe four models of attachment: resistant, secure, ambivalent, insecure-disorganized. Another example is the impassive face and the interaction deferred. Tracnic and colleagues (1978), describe the relationship of a newborn (from one to four months) place in front of the mother who keeps a poker face and does not interact: after 20 seconds of reminders from the child's, he becomes serious, si agita, off the look. The appearance of the face becomes staid, sucks his fingers, oscillates the head, retires. That, as early as a few months the configuration eye-mouth-movement represents a gestalt for the newborn can be perceived and experienced as something good ", you understand how the mother's face is for a child essential emotional support.

In 1985 The. Murray and C. Trevarthen, studied the effects of the lack of synchronization of the interaction between mother and child two months using a video; early mother and child are observed in their interaction in the form of mimicry, sight, prosody, (tuning affections, Stern). Then, the infant receives on the screen the more the image of the mother who interacts with him in real time, but a pre-recorded sequence that turns the mother into a sort of mother smiling even if automatic. The child will "withdraw", si agita. This indicates that the child is not only sensitive to the shape of the mother's face, the shape of its movement, but also to tuning, to its ability to interact at the time of the exchange. The experiments of Murray and Trevarthen, show that it is the subtle interplay of relational messages exchanged in the time keeping a loving relationship joyful: the mother and the child need to perceive one another in terms of emotional contact and reciprocity, to feel at ease and communication.

There must be a dialogue and established his tra madre e to.

It 'essentially on these theories that underpin my view of the child. A child in a context that is shaped by this, in need of a loving relationship characterized by reciprocity and awareness on the part of caregivers because its development proceeds smoothly.

Even today, we tend to approach the child through interpretative grids that does not really help us to understand, see it for what it is in the here and now.

Theories, models, thoughts are pre-made glasses with which approach the world of children, that fascinates and frightens us. And so was born the paradox of a society that is spent on children, that seeks to protect them forming associations in his defense, but perhaps still too often takes care of the child and not theoretical than real.

We explain, interpret and thus we move away from that dimension in which he lives and that as adults we try hard to approximate, perhaps following the dictates of un'imperversante however improbable new age culture.

The real child, moves to polarity and excesses and makes us envy and there poses troubling questions about our ability to combine opposites; we adults in search of our identification, we find it difficult to approach the real baby and its contradictions; we try to make a synthesis where a conjuntio would be required.