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Dowling, A.S. (2005). Introduction. Psychoanal. St. Child, 60:3-6.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 60:3-6

Infant-Parent Research and Intervention


A. Scott Dowling

Who can tell the dancer from the dance?

—William Butler Yeats

THE FOLLOWING FIVE PAPERS ARE PRESENTED AS A GROUP TO EMPHA-size the unity of purpose of their authors in furthering parent—young child research and clinical practice and to highlight the variety of routes they have devised to provide creative and effective interventions.

When Peter Wolff (1959) described infant states, the stage was set for the burgeoning field of infancy research. At about the same time, the important work of Chess and Thomas (1986) on temperament spelled out more explicitly the notions of Anna Freud and others that infants differed constitutionally in their regulatory and reactive styles—and that these differences had important, fateful consequences for the reactions they elicited in their caretakers. The findings of this research gradually made it possible to move beyond wellmeant but fundamentally authoritarian recommendations for infant care. This work thus set the stage for research that supports suggestions for care based on deepened developmental insight and on an appreciation of individual parent-infant differences.

There seems to be no end to the fruitfulness of infant research as it provides descriptions of ever more complex competencies and innate capacities of infants and details the moment-to-moment interactions of infants with others with ever greater precision. There is universal agreement that such studies yield a goldmine of data; there is less agreement about the interpretation of the data and their significance for development and functioning in later childhood and adulthood. One area in which these data might be applied is that of parent-infant intervention.


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