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(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. XII, 1964: The Derailment of Dialogue. Stimulus Overload, Action Cycles, and the Completion Gradient. René A. Spitz. Pp. 752-755.. Psychoanal Q., 36:468-469.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. XII, 1964: The Derailment of Dialogue. Stimulus Overload, Action Cycles, and the Completion Gradient. René A. Spitz. Pp. 752-755.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:468-469

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. XII, 1964: The Derailment of Dialogue. Stimulus Overload, Action Cycles, and the Completion Gradient. René A. Spitz. Pp. 752-755.

In this fascinating paper the author deals with another aspect of the mother-infant relationship; namely, the damage suffered by infants from the wrong kind of mothering. In this regard emphasis is placed on emotional overloading of the infant (stimulus overload) as an expression of undisciplined maternal behavior which, in turn, is the outcome of the parent's own unresolved emotional conflicts. This surfeit or overdoes of affective stimulation creates disturbances in the anticipatory, appetitive, and consummatory responses of the infant. Due to an overloading of stimuli from the mother the infant is unable to complete his normal response (termed the completion gradient). This distorted, repetitive interaction between mother and child becomes the basis for a disturbance of communication between them. Early in infancy this is unverbalized. The distorted communication between mother and child is termed 'the derailment of dialogue'.

The author cites experiments with rats to indicate how the overloading of stimuli distorts the perception and responses of the animal and draws a parallel with similar overloading in respect to mother-child relationships and society as a whole.

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While overcrowding of population is only one factor in the subsequent derailment of dialogue, insufficient attention has been paid to its disastrous sequelae. Comment is made on the growing problem of delinquency, dope addiction, and revolutionary upheavals. The case of an eight-and-one-half-month-old infant, moribund because of improper maternal handling, is described to illustrate the abnormal action cycle and the derailment of dialogue.

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Article Citation

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. XII, 1964. Psychoanal. Q., 36:468-469

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