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(1967). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 36:480-481.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:480-481

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

May 31, 1966. ANXIETY, SOCIALIZATION, AND EGO FORMATION IN INFANCY. Sylvia Brody, Ph.D. and Sidney Axelrad, D.S.Sc.

The expression 'preparation for anxiety' was used by Freud in 1926. In this paper the authors deal particularly with the subject of 'anxiety preparation' and the role of anxiety in ego formation. They attempt to assess the intensity of the infant's cathexis of his mother and his threshold for stress when alone and when in need. Recent studies indicate that infants respond to external stimuli earlier than had been supposed, with specificity and with 'varying degrees and kinds of sensorimotor activity and according to immediate conditions of hunger or satiation, sleepiness or wakefulness, as well as according to native strength and level of irritability'.

The earliest psychic development is summarized by the authors under the heading, 'a first phase of socialization'—a phase which occurs during the first three months of life and includes sensorimotor responses of a larval nature which build recognitions of sensations. Consciousness of body functions begins with awareness of the sensations and the sensorimotor responses that are taking place and that, from time to time, may be executed intentionally. Both positive and negative stimuli encourage advance and control of sensorimotor skills and thus serve the pleasure principle and the broadening of awareness that sets the base for reality testing. This phase culminates in 'imprinting to the mother as species-specific object', which is regarded as a special form of learning, 'a form of object cathexis'.

The authors' main proposition is that the emergence of the affect of anxiety and the beginning of ego formation take place in conjunction with one another and flow out of a joint process. They believe that some events previously considered part of the unique ontogenetic development are in fact closely linked to phylogenesis, including the concept of critical periods such as phases of socialization. The authors regard anxiety as one of the principle affects with which the ego is ushered into being.

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