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(1977). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 46:723-724.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:723-724

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

October 26, 1976. TOWARD A GENERAL SCHEMA OF PREOEDIPAL DEVELOPMENT. Herman Roiphe, M.D.

Dr. Roiphe proposed that preoedipal development has a far-reaching impact on the organization of the ego and on the form and outline of the oedipal constellation. The "personal birth of the human" at six, eight, or ten months of age, with the dawning awareness that the maternal object is external to the self, initiates a major disequilibrium that is resolved only in the course of the next two years. The smiling response and stranger anxiety are milestones in the development of the object relationship with the mother (Spitz), representing, first, symbiosis and, then, differentiation of self from mother, with the attainment of self and object constancy. The development of the transitional object and other transitional phenomena help to stabilize the child's sense of control and contact with the maternal object, which helps to restore the narcissistic balance. The trauma to the infant's primary narcissism seems to cause an upsurge in aggression directed toward the maternal object; the wish to destroy the loved object leads, in turn, to the need to contain this destructive force. Dr. Roiphe suggested that the usual absence of overt object-directed aggression in the six- to ten-month-old child results from a "moratorium" that is maintained by rapid transient loss of the sense of separateness—a dedifferentiation. In the second year, aggression toward the mother is stimulated by the increasing sense of separateness; the danger then arises that the aggressive drive will appear to threaten the global annihilation of the self and object schema. The splitting of the ambivalence between the anal and genital zones has a particular adaptive value at this age. The anal zone is well suited as the predominant channel for the aggressive feelings connected with separation, because of the anal function characteristics of fullness and loss. The genital zone expresses the libidinal attachment to the mother, enhanced by the good feelings associated with genital manipulation.

Early genital arousal and its related fantasy of closeness with the maternal object follows a different course in little boys and girls after their discovery of the anatomical differences.

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