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Gunsberg, L. (1987). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 7(3):301-305.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 7(3):301-305

Prologue

Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D.

This is a very exciting time in the history of psychoanalysis. Significant attention has been turned to fleshing out psychoanalytic theory as a developmental psychology. The first three years of life are the focus of study by developmental researchers, psychoanalytic researchers, and psychoanalysts. All are searching for more understanding of the presymbolic and early symbolic years, using different methodologies, asking different questions, and organizing their results in different ways.

Developmental researchers have asked questions regarding the competencies of infants, using tests and laboratory settings for their studies. They have found that infants are capable of many more skills and functions than previously thought. They are beginning to consider the infant-mother interaction and the infant-father interaction. Psychoanalytic researchers have studied infants in their homes and in laboratory settings, usually within the context of the infant-mother relationship. The questions they ask have to do with what can be learned about the presymbolic era, when the infant has experiences which are not represented symbolically and which are not, therefore, likely to be available to the patient and analyst. If early experiences either are not coded or are coded in a form different from that of adult memory, perhaps research and longitudinal observation can help provide the pictures, images, or “model scenes” (Lichtenberg, this volume) that are either reorganized on a symbolic level, or are lost forever.

I am reminded of a beautiful children's story by Taro Yashima, “Umbrella” (1961, pp. 30, 32). In the story, Momo gets an umbrella and a pair of boots for her third birthday.

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