Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry - Vol. 2

By Justin D. Call; Eleanor Galenson et al. | Go to book overview

EDITORS' PREFACE

In the three years between the First World Congress on Infant Psychiatry in Cascais, Portugal, and the Second Congress in Cannes, France, infant psychiatry has become firmly established as a special area within the larger field of child psychiatry and the allied professions. Yet infant psychiatry remains unique by virtue of the intimacy of the relationship between the infant and his parents, the dependence of the infant upon this relationship, and the important role played by physiological and biological aspects in the infant's psychological development.

This book is an extension of the first volume entitled Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry and will be followed by additional volumes appearing at regular intervals reporting the progress of this field. The papers included were selected by the editors on the basis of scientific originality, analysis of data, and quality of interpretation of data. Stringent requirements were imposed in making this selection.

It is interesting to compare the contents of the two volumes of Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry, particularly in view of these special features of infancy. Volume II contains far more studies of the various aspects of the mother-infant interrelationship, particularly the role of affect interchange. Research and clinical work with premature infants and their caregivers have also increased to an astonishing degree, in keeping with the medical, psychological, and social problems encountered in dealing with this group of at-risk infants. More has been written about various types of psychopathology in infancy, particularly types involving pathological parenting, such as child abuse, and those accompanying or consequent to medical disorders such as epilepsy and hypothyroidism. There is greater emphasis in this volume on early intervention and prevention of psychological disorders in infancy, in keeping with advances in our understanding of the causes of early psychopathology. There is also greater attention to the role of such infant caregivers as fathers and grandparents, paralleling societal shifts in infant care, especially in the United States.

But despite the large number of subjects included in this volume, it is not intended as a textbook of infant psychiatry or a guide for research methodology in infant psychiatry. Here, as in the first volume, the variety of concepts, methods, aims, and topics currently utilized in the different disciplines is impressive. Although this variety does not make for neatly organized sections, the contributions offer a full overview of what is currently in the forefront of this field.

Frontiers II, while rich in so many areas, does not include a specific section devoted to assessment as such, although many aspects of assessment in infancy are addressed in different ways throughout the book. Evaluation of assessment tools and methods will undoubtedly command increasing attention in the future from those carrying out research in infant psychiatry. Some assessment methods have been devised de novo to meet needs peculiar to the work in this field, as exemplified by the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Inventory. Other methods are based on techniques first employed with older groups, now applied to infants, such as the Bayley Test. But the many quantitative scales being devised for application to work with infants tend by their very nature to be narrowly focused, so that one of their virtues becomes a handicap as a consequence of the things such methods do not take into account. This is an old problem being confronted anew: whether all important information is quantifiable and whether nonquantifiable information is therefore not important. In the clinical framework, a great deal of informa

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