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Armstrong-Perlman, E.M. (1987). Introduction: The Child's Psyche and the Nature of its Experience. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(2):169-172.

(1987). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(2):169-172

Theoretical Concepts: The Child's Psyche I

Introduction: The Child's Psyche and the Nature of its Experience

Eleanore M Armstrong-Perlman

No-one committed to the value of a psychodynamic perspective for understanding human behaviour would dispute that one essential tenet of this approach is that a developmental perspective can give valuable insight into the understanding of human behaviour. The child, nay indeed the infant, is the father of the man. It is a perspective which stresses that complex and elaborate forms of human behaviour and motivation can be interpreted as the elaboration of more primitive or infantile drives and conflicts. Our conception of the infant's nature, his drives, his needs, his innate potentialities, and how they will be affected or structured by the environment that may meet or fail to meet his requirements, will affect and colour our later understanding of 'the transference in the analytic situation.

We may differ about the drives we attribute to the neonate: for example, in our views about the death instinct or whether envy is a primary or secondary phenomenon. Some, like Balint, Fairbairn, Winnicott or Kohut, may regard these drives as secondary products arising from, and exacerbated by, an environmental situation in which there was a traumatising lack of fit between the child and his significant others.

We may differ in the significance we attribute to the role of the relationship with the primary caretaker and how this relationship affects the intrapsychic development of the individual. Some will stress the role of the mother as a transformational object of primitive infantile phantasies inasmuch as she can hold and contain them.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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