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Spitz, R.A. (1955). A Note on the Extrapolation of Ethological Findings—(A Reply to L. Szekely: 'Biological Remarks on Fears Originating in Early Childhood'). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:162-165.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:162-165

A Note on the Extrapolation of Ethological Findings—(A Reply to L. Szekely: 'Biological Remarks on Fears Originating in Early Childhood') Related Papers

Rene A. Spitz, M.D.

In a series of articles and motion pictures representing steps of the 'Psycho-analytic Research Project on Problems in Infancy' I have investigated the manifestations and the development of emotions in the infant. Of these publications the monograph 'The Smiling Response' (11) and the article 'Anxiety in Infancy' (12) are particularly relevant to our present discussion. The investigations in question were conducted on one hand with the help of direct infant observation, on the other with the help of certain experiments which I described in the above-mentioned publications. The findings were as follows: The infant experiences its relationship with its mother emotionally and responds to this experience with a smile by the third month of life. This smile takes place in response to a visual stimulus within the human face. This stimulus is the eyes-nose-forehead configuration and is not reacted to from the beginning; the steps in its establishment are distinct; it takes two months before it becomes established. The fact that it does become established is a criterion of the normal inception of the infant's social relations, a first relation which is the basis of, and determines the pattern for, all later social relations. If we follow from birth the development of the smiling response, it becomes evident that the emotion underlying this reaction is similar to what we call pleasure in the grown-up. The appearance of the smiling response indicates that the child has acquired a capacity to distinguish and to experience positive emotions (13).

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