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Norman, J. (2001). Response to Dr Flink. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(6):1257-1258.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(6):1257-1258

Response to Dr Flink Related Papers

Johan Norman

Dear Sirs,

I would like to take up a few points in response to Dr Flink's reply in this journal to my response to his comments On Norman's The psychoanalyst and the baby: a new look at work with infants (Flink, 2001).

1. Do infants have a ‘mental’ life or not?—That is the question

The central topic in this discussion is perhaps what we mean by saying that something is ‘mental’. According to Dr Flink, and according to the philosophy of mind of Marcia Cavell (1993) to whom he refers, ‘the mental’ starts with language: things going on before are something else but not what can be called ‘mental’. The reason for saying that infants don't have representations is that we wouldn't know what we mean in saying they do (Cavell, 1993, p. 120). As there would be nothing ‘mental’ in the infant, there could not be said to be ‘meaning’ and ‘understanding’, and therefore Freud's (1915) theory of language with the concepts ‘thing-representation’ and ‘word-representation’ would, according to Dr Flink, be outdated. My point is that this definition of the concepts of ‘meaning’, ‘mental’ and ‘understanding’ is too narrow, because it excludes all that we can observe as early communication and intersubjectivity.

Dr Flink is, of course, not unaware of the existence of the extensive research on infants carried out over the last two decades; neither, indeed, is Cavell, as is evident in her book where she points to the fact that language learning itself probably starts with the beginning of a child's life, prepared for from early on by many kinds of responsiveness to the world and to other creatures that are wired in (1993, p.

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