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Provence, S. (1976). Diagnosis and Treatment of an Infant with Psychophysiological Vomiting. Psychoanal. St. Child, 31:439-459.

(1976). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 31:439-459

Applications of Psychoanalysis

Diagnosis and Treatment of an Infant with Psychophysiological Vomiting

Sally Provence, M.D.

PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY PROVIDES A FRAMEWORK WHICH WE FIND OF great value in our studies of the psychological and psychophysiological disturbances of infants. It is useful not only in the examination of observational and interview data but also in guiding therapeutic efforts. Infants like the one presented in this paper suffer the consequences of a profound disturbance in the mother-child relationship. A mother's inability to nurture her baby may have many roots. Among them, in this instance, as in others, is the specific meaning of the infant which mobilizes intense feelings from the past and markedly interferes with the mother's capacity to carry out a conscious wish to comfort and care for her child.

Among the problems presented by this infant were an almost unrelieved state of physiological and psychological tension and frequent vomiting. Sander et al. (1970) have called attention to the impact of the caretaking environment on the biological rhythms of the infant. The skill of the mothering person in responding appropriately to the infant influences, among other things, the stabilization and synchronization of circadian rhythms.

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