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Schilder, P. (1939). The Relations Between Clinging and Equilibrium. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:58-63.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:58-63

The Relations Between Clinging and Equilibrium

Paul Schilder

Imre Hermann has quite rightly called our attention to the significance of clinging in the mental life of man. I propose here to adduce certain facts which confirm his ideas and amplify them. The investigations which Dr. J. Bieber and I have carried out with newly-born infants have shown us that the act of sucking is in fact always accompanied by a heightening of muscular tension, especially in respect of grasping. In so far as grasping can be voluntarily initiated, it enables sucking to proceed more easily. Hermann quite correctly comments upon the amount of energy involved in the act of grasping.

According to Watson and Richter new-born babies and monkeys are actually able to maintain themselves suspended by the strength of their grasping-reflex. Richter has shewn that the grasping-reflex in monkeys regularly disappears in the process of development. The fact that the grasping-reflex makes it possible to cling in defiance of the law of gravity and subsequently diminishes is another reason which points to the probability of there being a connection between grasping and sucking. A child must feel securely perched against its mother's body while sucking. In pathological cases we find that grasping and groping are very frequently bound up with a sucking-reflex. It is certain that grasping and sucking may be activated afresh if the so-called pre-frontal region of the brain is destroyed.

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