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Beebe, B. Lachmann, F. (2002). Organizing Principles of Interaction from Infant Research and the Lifespan Prediction of Attachment: Application to Adult Treatment. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 2(4):61-89.

(2002). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2(4):61-89

Organizing Principles of Interaction from Infant Research and the Lifespan Prediction of Attachment: Application to Adult Treatment

Beatrice Beebe, Ph.D. and Frank Lachmann, Ph.D.

In this paper we apply organizing principles of interaction documented in face-to-face interactions in infancy to both the implicit and explicit dimensions of therapeutic interaction in psychoanalysis. In our previous work we approached interaction with a dyadic systems model of communication (Beebe and Lachmann 2002, Beebe et al. 1992). In this view all communication is coconstructed by both partners, although not necessarily in symmetrical ways. We used the dyadic systems model to define organizing principles of interaction for psychoanalysis. The most general of these organizing principles entails the integration of self- and interactive regulation, which are simultaneous, complementary, and optimally in dynamic balance. We further differentiated “three principles of salience”: ongoing regulation, disruption and repair, and heightened affective moments, each of which refines our understanding of the nature of self- and interactive regulation (Beebe and Lachmann 1994). In this paper we extend the concept of organizing principles of interaction in psychoanalysis to vocal rhythm coordination, facial mirroring, and distress regulation. The concept of organizing principles can further specify the details of how interactions are regulated.

Infant research has shown that vocal rhythm coordination, facial mirroring, and distress regulation in the early months of life predict infant attachment at one year. These three patterns organize the nonverbal, implicit


* We note as a caveat that we are limiting the concept of nonverbal communication in psychoanalysis to the repetitive, rapid action sequences that are largely out of awareness. Symbolic nonverbal gestures, such as a raised hand held flat and open, which is an explicit communication of “stop,” are excluded from our discussion.

We wish to acknowledge the contributions of Stephen Knoblauch, Judith Rustin, Dorienne Sorter, Barbara Kane, Lin Reicher, Sara Markese, Lauren Cooper, Michael Ritter, Emily Brodie, and Marina Tasopholous.

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