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Mahler, M.S. (1974). Symbiosis and Individuation—The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. Psychoanal. St. Child, 29:89-106.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 29:89-106

Symbiosis and Individuation—The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant

Margaret S. Mahler, M.D.

I WOULD LIKE TO START ON A SOMEWHAT PERSONAL NOTE, TO INdicate how, amidst my reconstructive studies in the psychoanalytic situation, this observational, normative work, one of whose yields is the present paper, came about.

During my own formative years when I was still a trainee at the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna, my experiences as head of a well-baby clinic in the late 1920s brought the (albeit preconscious) impression again and again to my mind that the human infant's biological, actual birth experience did not coincide with his "psychological birth." The sensorium of the newborn and very young infant did not seem to be "tuned in" to the outside world; he appeared to be in a twilight state of existence.


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