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Landerholm-EK, L. (2001). The Experience of Abandonment and Adoption, as a Child and as a Parent, in a Psychological Motivational Perspective. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 10(1):12-25.

(2001). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):12-25

The Experience of Abandonment and Adoption, as a Child and as a Parent, in a Psychological Motivational Perspective

Lotta Landerholm-EK

The adopted child has experiences of loss, changes of goals for attachment, and of being biologically separate in the family, which are similar to the experiences of adoptive parents who are infertile. In this paper, the correspondence of experiences between the adopted child and the infertile adoptive parents will be examined with the motivational system theory constructed by Joseph Lichtenberg. This theory is based on psychoanalytical knowledge as well as on infant research. It comprises five motivational systems, all existing from the beginning of life, which promote the fulfilment and regulation of: 1. the need for psychic regulation of physiological requirements, 2. the need for attachment and later affiliation, 3. the need for exploration and assertion, 4. the need to react aversively through antagonism or withdrawal (or both) and 5. the need for sensual enjoyment and (later) sexual excitement. In regard to these basic needs, infertile parents have certain experiences that correspond to and correlate with those of the abandoned child. This implies a risk for the development of the adoptive family as well as a possibility for growth. The author suggests potential healing factors that may exist within an infertile couple regarding meeting and understanding an abandoned child.

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