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Brody, S. (1996). The Evolution Of Character. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:1003-1005.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:1003-1005

The Evolution Of Character

Sylvia Brody

I appreciate Baudry's effort to review The Evolution of Character. He has, however, misunderstood the source of the research, its aims, and its meanings. I shall cite only a few of his errors. The only relation between the work of Escalona and Leitch (1952) and my first study (Brody, 1956) was that with their permission I made use of a part of the raw data gathered when I was associated with the Infancy Research Project in Topeka. My interest, not theirs, was in relations between oral derivatives and maternal behavior. The purpose of our subsequent and larger work (Brody and Axelrad, 1970, 1978) was to learn about experiential events of infancy, so far as could be learned from repeated observations of the infants with their mothers (N = 131), in a standard situation and over specific time spans, from developmental tests of the infants followed by psychological tests of the children, observations of them at school, and from successive interviews with the mothers and later with the fathers.

Baudry compares Siegel's and my efforts to unrelated studies by other investigators (except for Spitz, 1945, 1950; Spitz and Wolf, 1946) without citing any connection between them. Had he read our book carefully, he might have had a more correct grasp of our hypotheses, our methods of data analysis, and of how over the years the project, which was the first of its kind and was initially intended to extend only through the infants' first year, grew to be a study of character formation. If we later “anchored” our concept of character on significant derivatives of oral experience, that may be regarded as a tribute to the history of psychoanalytic knowledge and as a consequence of training in methodology. It has hardly been a simplification of the vicissitudes of early development. Nor has it meant a failure to consider the inner reality of the subjects, as Baudry sees it. Our first task was to assess their objective reality, that with which every psychoanalyst must begin before he or she can try to understand the psychic reality of the patient. Nevertheless, much about the psychic reality of infants can be discovered from intensive study of the host of psychological elements they bring with them into early childhood and later.

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