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Campbell, B.K. Silver, D. Novick, K.K. Novick, J. Mittlestaedt, M. Walton, A. (1995). The Application of Lichtenberg's Five Motivational Systems to the Analysis of Mother-Infant Interaction. Psychoanal. Inq., 15(4):481-492.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 15(4):481-492

The Application of Lichtenberg's Five Motivational Systems to the Analysis of Mother-Infant Interaction

B. Kay Campbell, Ph.D., Donald Silver, M.D., Kerry Kelly Novick, Jack Novick, Ph.D., Mary Mittlestaedt, Ph.D. and Anne Walton, BA


We have reported a preliminary research effort to apply Lichtenberg's five motivational systems to the analysis of videotaped mother-infant interactional data. The work required viewing each segment at least 10 times, focusing each time on one member of the dyad and assessing one motivational system. The richness of this method is also its fault: The method generates considerable data. It is not a simple system; the definitions and behavioral categories are not discrete. Future work would be served by creating a coding system that could be utilized by pairs of judges comparing and contrasting their impressions in an effort to reach agreement. The repetitive process of examining single episodes of mother-infant interaction enhances clinical understanding of the expression and effect of motivational needs on the overall development of the individual and can be extended to the work with adult analytic patients.

In summary, we were able to apply Lichtenberg's motivational systems concepts, derived from clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis, to observational research data. The conflicts of mother-infant interaction, within each partner and between the two, were sharply elucidated when we looked at behavior from the point of view of each motivational system. This enriched our understanding of the unfolding mutual influences between the adolescent mothers and their babies, which could also be applied to healthy pairs, and allowed for enhanced description of fluctuations and patterning among the motivational systems.

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