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Infancy—Systems/Behavioral Models. Subject of study—mother/infant dyad Infant and mother are equal participants in interaction Focus of study—how each member of dyad influences other member. Contrasts with Organismic/Psychoanalytic Models.

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infancy systems behavioral models
Infancy—Systems/Behavioral Models
  • Subject of study—mother/infant dyad
  • Infant and mother are equal participants in interaction
  • Focus of study—how each member of dyad influences other member
contrasts with organismic psychoanalytic models
Contrasts with Organismic/Psychoanalytic Models
  • Infant’s subjective experience not important—only behavioral manifestations
  • Infant accurately apprehends reality and real aspects of mother
  • Mother, therefore, has a real influence on infant (Bowlby as Klein’s supervisee)
  • One-person versus two-person model—both members of dyad are equally responsible for construction of shared reality
    • Implications for interactions between couples
    • Implications for interactions between patient and therapist
  • Absence of aggressive, sexual drives
stern s model of the origins of infant psychopathology
Stern’s Model of the Origins of Infant Psychopathology
  • The first relationship—to mom—is prototype for all future relationships
  • Successful mother-infant interaction—affect regulation
    • Based on mother’s ability to interpret optimal levels of infant arousal
    • Based on infant’s threshold of stimulation and organization of affect
    • Based on mutual ability to negotiate a meaningful, shared dialogue (goal-correctedness)
Failure of affect regulation
    • Maternal overstimulation/infant hyperarousal
      • No opportunity to regulate flow of affective information and thus feel in control of external or internal world
      • Contingently overstimulating mothers
      • Noncontingently overstimulating mothers (“better to respond badly than to be nonresponsive”)
      • Effects on infant
        • Dissociating—splitting all perception
        • Motoric inhibition (“going limp”)
      • Infant exceptionally sensitive to stimuli (e.g., drug-exposed infants)
        • Severely protective behaviors
        • Withdrawing behaviors
Maternal understimulation/infant hypoarousal
    • Incompetence in performing stimulating behaviors that produce optimal levels of arousal
    • Interferences in performing these behaviors (e.g., depression)
    • Mothers who feel rejected and in turn reject the infant (under or overstimulating?)
    • Effects on infant—feeling that infant cannot control external world or internal state
    • Infant exceptionally insensitive to stimuli—mother must work harder
Paradoxical stimulation
      • Stimulating only at times when infant is in pain or danger
        • Mother’s interest becomes associated with self-inflicted pain
        • Origins of sado-masochism
      • Avoiding full contact and full disengagement
  • Engagement and disengagement are prototypes for attachment and separation later in development
bowlby ainsworth s model of the origins of infant psychopathology
Bowlby/Ainsworth’s Model of the Origins of Infant Psychopathology
  • Evolutionary theory—mother and infant try to maximize protection (stimulated by fear, fatigue, or sickness) from external danger through two behaviors
    • Proximity-seeking
    • Contact-maintenance
  • Outcomes when survival is threatened through caregiver unavailability
    • Anxiety
    • Anger
    • Disbelief at loss
    • Searching for reunion
    • Detachment
Homeostasis (regulation) of feelings of security
    • Physiological control systems—anxiety, anger, searching
    • Environmental control systems—emotional availability
  • Failures in secure attachment
    • Attachment behavior de-activated—defensive exclusion (avoidant infants)
      • Interference with loving and being loved because fear of rejection
      • “False self” or narcissism develops
Attachment behavior hyper-activated (resistant/ambivalent infants)
      • Inconsistency in mother’s availability and responsiveness
      • Preoccupation and intense anger develops (BPD?)
  • Implications: Developmental pathways to clinical depression (Brown & Harris, 1978)
    • Severe current adverse event—personal loss or disappointment
    • Absence of companion in whom to confide (secure 6 age)
    • Difficult living conditions—feelings of insecurity
    • Loss of mother before age 11
Other developmental outcomes
    • Avoidant infants
      • Aggressive toward peers
      • Noncompliant
      • Avoidant
    • Ambivalent infants
      • Easily frustrated
      • Not persistent
      • Not competent
developmental sequences in other populations ds maltreatment
Developmental Sequences in Other Populations (DS, Maltreatment)
  • DS infants proceed through same developmental sequences but at slower rate—integration of ecological self is difficult
    • Linguistic representations of self are less mature and differentiated
    • Ecological self is intact—able to perceive nature of relationship between the person and environment
Maltreated infants develop self differently
    • Self-recognition accompanied by negative affect (shameful or bad feelings about self)
    • Internal state language less mature, less elaborated, less able to discuss internal states of self and other, less able to discuss negative internal states (“false self”)