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Benvenuto, B. (1989). Once upon A Time the Infant in the Lacanian Theory. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(3):409-422.
(1989). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(3):409-422
Theoretical Concepts: The Child's Psyche V
Once upon A Time the Infant in the Lacanian Theory
By setting up a dialogue with the ‘adult’ unconscious of his patients, Freud had to admit, not without scandal for those times, that he was inevitably led into the dark area of childhoodsexuality.
That the child is the father of the man, as E Armstrong-Perlman reminded us in her introduction to this series of articles on infant development, is a truth which only became so in our culture, more precisely, from the time that psychoanalysis discovered the importance of childhood for the unconscious of adult patients. Thanks to this discovery the child has become the centre of interest in most branches of our culture and understanding in a way as never before in history, as the historian Philippe Aries suggests in his interesting book on the history of the family in the Ancien Regime.'
Childhood seems to contain in itself the mystery of our origin. It is the foundation for any further development. That the quest for the mystery of origins holds strong in psychoanalysis can be seen in the way it traces man's relation to the world further and further back, into the mists of an original state, as if to catch it in the act, at its birth. Like story-tellers, psychoanalysts too would like to start the story with a ‘Once upon a time’.
Like the cell in biology and the atom in physics, psychoanalysis too looks for the irreducible unit of the psychic world. Object relation theory, in spite of all its variations of emphases, postulates the irreducible relation to a primaryobject (namely, the breast) which will determine to a greater or lesser extent the internal world of the infant and thus, eventually, the adult.
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