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Lichtenberg, J.D. (1982). Reflections on the First Year of Life. Psychoanal. Inq., 1(4):695-729.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 1(4):695-729

Reflections on the First Year of Life

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D.

Hartmann, who viewed psychological events with a remarkable broadness of perspective, stated that in the infant a state of preadaptedness exists prior to the point in its development where the organism can function on its own to secure its adaptation (1939p. 49; 1956pp. 245-247). In delineating what he meant by “preadapted,” Hartmann pointed to the capacity of the infantile mind to perceive, remember, and control movements—functions that he conceived to be primary (inborn) and autonomous (developing as a separate organization in response to stimuli, rather than developing as a result of conflict). Hartmann reasoned that functions that exist prior to a conflict must be present to give psychological registry and meaning to the impulses that give rise to the conflict. As Freud had stated, conflict is created when a desire to re-experience satisfaction must be subjected to delay. Hartmann's conception of preadaptedness was largely inferential and deductive.

That a state of preadaptedness exists in the infant is confirmed by the vast amount of research data on neonates and older infants that has accumulated, principally since 1960.

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