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Weiland, I.H. (1966). Considerations on the Development of Symbiosis, Symbiotic Psychosis, and the Nature of Separation Anxiety. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:1-5.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:1-5

Considerations on the Development of Symbiosis, Symbiotic Psychosis, and the Nature of Separation Anxiety

I. Hyman Weiland


The concept of symbiosis is reconsidered as a primitive means of coping with anxiety in addition to the more common assumption that it is the persistence of a normal developmental phenomenon, and as a signal anxiety rather than a primary reaction as proposed by Bowlby. Anxiety is seen as a cause of symbiotic behaviour in the present formulation in contrast to, but not to the exclusion of, the conception that anxiety results from the experience of passive separation from the mother in an infant dominated by

symbiotic needs. Object recognition is not necessarily a consequence of resolution of symbiosis in the separation-individuation phase but is developed by a sequence of events not specified in this paper. (See Weiland, 1964a), (1964b.) Excessive infantile anxiety perpetuates clinging with resultant interference in development of normal object relationships. This accounts for the prominence of symbiotic symptoms in childhood psychoses. Failure to develop object recognition may predispose the child to anxiety which is coped with by primitive means such as clinging.

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