The Earliest Relationship: Parents, Infants, and the Drama of Early Attachment

The Earliest Relationship: Parents, Infants, and the Drama of Early Attachment

The Earliest Relationship: Parents, Infants, and the Drama of Early Attachment

The Earliest Relationship: Parents, Infants, and the Drama of Early Attachment

Synopsis

T. Berry Brazelton, M. D. , founder of the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital Boston, is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Pediatrics and Human Development at Brown University. He is a famed advocate for children, and his many other internationally acclaimed books for parents include To Listen to a Child, Infants and Mothers, and, with Stanley I. Greenspan, M. D., The Irreducible Needs of Children. Bertrand G. Cramer, M. D., is professor of psychiatry at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Excerpt

As a pediatrician involved in infancy research and a psychiatrist involved for some time in infant psychiatry, we have long been struck by the need to integrate the contributions of our respective fields into theory and clinical work. In 1982 we had the opportunity to work together at the Boston Children's Hospital and there we began to conceive of a book that would apply research in infant behavior and in parent-infant interaction to the growing field of infant psychology and psychiatry.

Parents and their new babies are cared for by professionals from a variety of disciplines, including pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, nursing, and social work. Some of this care concentrates on the health and development of the infant; some focuses on the parent's problems and anxieties. Our book starts from two assumptions: that the parent‐ infant pair must be cared for as a unit, and the approach must be transdisciplinary. In the words of D. W. Winnicott, who was one of the first to point out this interdependence: "At this very early state, it is not logical to think of an individual" (Winnicott, 1988a). "If you set out to describe a baby, you will find that you are describing a baby and someone [italics his]. A baby cannot exist alone, but is essentially part of a relationship" (Winnicott, 1987). Pediatricians and nurses who care for healthy infants and infants at risk and developmental psychologists who study them can benefit from knowledge of parental emotions and fantasies drawn from psychoanalysis and dynamic psychiatry.Psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and social workers who treat new parents will find it useful to understand the contributions of the infant to a troubled relationship.

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