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Mahler, M.S. (1967). On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:740-763.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:740-763

On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation

Margaret S. Mahler, M.D.

THE TERM SYMBIOSIS is borrowed from biology, where it is used to refer to a close functional association of two organisms to their mutual advantage.

In the weeks preceding the evolution to symbiosis, the newborn and very young infant's sleeplike states far outweigh in proportion the states of arousal. They are reminiscent of that primal state of libido distribution that prevailed in intrauterine life, which resembles the model of a closed monadic system, self-sufficient in its hallucinatory wish fulfillment.

Freud's (12) use of the bird's egg as a model of a closed psychological system comes to mind.

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