Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry - Vol. 2

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

1
Affect Attunement

Daniel N. Stern, M.D.

One of the most mysterious aspects of the parent-infant (or any human) relationship is how one knows what another is experiencing subjectively. Yet this very ability underlies what we mean by empathy. It also underlies the phenomena in which the parent's fantasies about the infant come to influence the infant's behavior and ultimately shape his fantasies. (It is largely the result of the conference leading to this book that I have become aware of the wealth of work in Europe, particularly in France, on this issue of reciprocal fantasy interaction [Cramer, 1982; Kreisler, 1981; Kreisler et al., 1974; Lebovici, 1982, 1983; Pinol-Douriez, 1983].) The ability I have in mind also underlies aspects of what we mean by the quality of a relationship—in particular, what Hinde (1976) has described as the penetration or degree of mutual disclosure, openness, or intimacy.

Whether one is considering empathy, reciprocal fantasy interactions, mutual intimacy, or any other manner in which the inner mental life of one person ends up penetrating and influencing another, there must be some general ways that mental states within one person are knowable to another. (And the ways must be nonverbal, because one partner is an infant.) The mental state must first become manifest as overt behavior—and that overt behavior must be translatable—so that a partner can sense the inner state lying behind another's overt behavior.

The phenomenon of affect attunement is one such general way. Accordingly, we believe it occupies a place of importance in understanding the mechanisms behind crucial clinical issues such as empathy, "interactions fatasmatique," and intimacy, as well as "mirroring" and its related processes. In this essay I explore the nature, mechanism, and role of affect attunement in the sharing of affective mental states.

Some of the kernel ideas presented here are treated elsewhere in greater depth and related to other aspects of the growth of the infant's interpersonal world (Stern, in press).


Description of Affect Attunement

Affect attunement can so permeate other behaviors that they are difficult to find in pure form (the following examples are taken from Stern, 1984). Occasionally, a very unemcumbered example appears, such as:


EXAMPLE 1

A nine-month-old girl becomes very excited about a toy and reaches for it. As she grabs it, she lets out an exuberant "aaaah!" and looks at her mother. Her mother looks back, squinches up her shoulders, and performs a terrific shimmy of her upper body—like a go-go dancer. The shimmy lasts only about as long as

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 564

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.