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Trevarthen, C. (2015). Awareness of Infants: What Do They, and We, Seek?. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(4):395-416.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(4):395-416

Awareness of Infants: What Do They, and We, Seek?

Colwyn Trevarthen, Ph.D.

I study the biological foundations of human cultural intelligence, and how they are supported. I observe the development of human motives for agency, the emotions that evaluate what is discovered, and the ways interests and discoveries and feelings may be shared with others. Ed Tronick and I have been privileged to study infants closely over several decades in which ideas of the dynamic powers of the human mind have been transformed, principally by recording how infants act in intimate companionship with their mothers in the first year or two. Here I try to clarify the ways we have, for different purposes and in different environments, taken complementary routes to understanding the meaning of infant life. His responsibilities are clinical and occupied with supporting the mental health of both the infant and the mother, and the building of a strong affectionate trust for life with others. My task has been trying to understand the subtle creativity and aesthetic and moral principles that animate a widening circle of relationships for a child, and that lead to cultural learning that is rich and playful. Ed and I are lucky to be discovering what every infant wants, and privileged to be supporting pride in good company, while striving to guard against causes of despair and shame in young children and their families.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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