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Sandler, A. (1976). The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation: By Margaret S. Mahler, Fred Pine and Anni Bergman. New York: Basic Books. 1975. Pp. 308.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:360-362.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:360-362

The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation: By Margaret S. Mahler, Fred Pine and Anni Bergman. New York: Basic Books. 1975. Pp. 308.

Review by:
Anne-Marie Sandler

Margaret Mahler is one of the great psycho-analytic observers of our time. Students of her many previous publications are familiar with her approach to the study of childhood psychosis, an area of work which culminated in her book on infantile psychosis (On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation. New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1968). Although it has been clear for many years that the detailed studies conducted and reported by Mahler and her colleagues at the Master's Children's Centre in New York contained an implicit psychoanalytic psychology of normal development, it is only now that a full volume has been devoted to this importnat subject. In The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant Margaret Mahler and two of her colleagues provide a wealth of observational data and theoretical conclusions which demonstrate unequivocally that the important periods in child development are not confined to the first year of life nor only to the oedipal period. Moreover, Mahler and her co-authors provide a theoretical scaffolding for the understanding of child development which has potential application in a host of different areas, including the psychoanalytic treatment of adults, for which a developmental point of view is indispensable. It would be no exaggeration to say that this work represents one of the most comprehensive modifications of the psychoanalytic theory of child development since Freud published his 'Three Essays' in 1905. I would venture to suggest that Mahler's views would have been perfectly acceptable to Freud, for they are based on the most careful and essentially psycho-analytic observation of infants and children, normal and abnormal.

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