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Murphy, L.B. (1964). Some Aspects of the First Relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:31-43.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:31-43

Some Aspects of the First Relationship

Lois B. Murphy

THE early months of the infant's life are of course but dimly reflected in psycho-analytic data; hypotheses and speculations about the development of the infant himself, and his relation to his mother, are sometimes based on reconstructions from analysis, but often on deductions from the abstract conceptual framework of psycho-analysis. In the fields of developmental and experimental psychology dynamic processes aside from the processes of growth and the simplest forms of learning have hardly been studied at all. Perhaps some gaps in both areas can be filled by bringing the dynamic and observational approaches together. Without going into descriptive detail within the limited space of this paper, I shall make use constantly of both experimental results and observations by Escalona (Escalona et al., 1953) and also Shirley (1931–33), Bernfeld (1929), Buhler (1930), and others; and I shall also use data from my own observations and photo-records over many years. This is an area which has attracted much attention in both Great Britain and the United States, owing to wartime separations, problems of placement of infants and young children in infants' and foster homes, and many difficulties in understanding failures in normal development. There is moreover no area more basic for the understanding of personality and development and socialization of the child than the development of his relation to the mother, that is, the first relationship.

The Initial Situation of the Infant and Mother

In order to understand the development of the relationship between baby and mother, we must look at each in the situation in which they begin that relationship, and the observable phenomena of these beginnings.

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