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Tronick, E.Z. (2002). A Model of Infant Mood States and Sandarian Affective Waves. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(1):73-99.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(1):73-99

A Model of Infant Mood States and Sandarian Affective Waves

E. Z. Tronick, Ph.D.

There has been little or no research on the establishment of infant moods or the mechanisms underlying them. One reason may be our difficulty in entertaining the idea that there are affective processes in infants that have long-lasting organizing continuous effects. It is this possibility that is considered in this paper. I attempt to address the questions of how moods are created and what some of their functions are. My model of moods is that infants have long-lasting (e.g., hours, days, and even longer) mood states. Mood states are dynamically changing yet distinct assemblages of affective behaviors. Mood control processes are modified by affective input from others. Thus moods are cocreated by the interplay of active, self-organized, biorhythmic affective control processes in the infant and the effect of the emotions expressed by others on mood control processes. In recognition of the importance of Sander's thinking to this work, I have named one of these processes the Sanderian Affective Wave. Mood states organize behavior and experience over time. Critically, moods serve an anticipatory representational function by providing directionality to an infant's behavior as he “moves” into

the future. Thus they provide continuity to infants' experiential life. Furthermore, moods fulfill the Janus principle of bringing the past into the future for the infant, but as a noncognitive/symbolic/linguistic process—that is, as a purely affective—memorial process. Moreover, I believe that consideration of the development of moods opens the way for thinking about dynamic conflictual emotional processes in infants. Lastly, thinking about moods has important implications for understanding the development of pathology and for therapy.

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