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Lantos, B. (1962). The Theory of the Parent-infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:249.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:249

The Theory of the Parent-infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion

Barbara Lantos


I would like to point out another aspect of the protective mother-child or parent-child relationship and its possible consequences. This is the ego's capacity to deal with anxiety, which to my mind is greatly influenced by the experiences of the first year. My conclusions come from patients I have had in analysis, and from a report I will quote later.

I had, by chance, several patients in analysis who, on account of war conditions and other disasters, missed the protective, good-mother relationship from the very beginning. They were exposed to dangers of reality and the danger of perishing by hunger at an extremely early age. I found that they lacked just that sort of confidence and trust that the neurotic patient brings with him into the analytic situation and which is the derivative of the good early parent-relationship. This trust and confidence is transferred to the analyst as to a good, helpful figure, and that is what starts analysis. The patients I mentioned had not the capacity for trust and confidence, as they had no helpful figure in their early reality and could not transfer it. Their early, overwhelming anxieties were repeated in the transference and made them unable to speak, although they knew, intellectually, that the analyst wants their best. Another channel which leads to the ego's capacity to deal with anxieties is a more indirect one. I agree very much with Winnicott that only a well-mothered, well-protected child can develop his inherent potentialities.

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