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Fonagy, P. Target, M. (2002). Early Intervention and the Development of Self-Regulation. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(3):307-335.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(3):307-335

Early Intervention and the Development of Self-Regulation

Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., FBA and Mary Target, Ph.D.

Self-regulation is the key mediator between genetic predisposition, early experience, and adult functioning. This paper argues that all the key mechanisms underpinning the enduring effects of early relationship experiences interface with individuals' capacity to control (a) their reaction to stress, (b) their capacity to maintain focused attention, and (c) their capacity to interpret mental states in themselves and others. These three mechanisms together function to assist the individual to work closely and collaboratively with other minds. The paper proposes a reformulation of attachment theory constructs in terms of the quality of interpersonal interpretive functioning and the interpersonal strategies adopted by individuals to maintain optimal psychological distance between themselves and others, given their particular level of interpretive capacity.

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