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Spitz, R.A. (1950). Anxiety in Infancy: A Study of its Manifestations in the First Year of Life. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31:138-143.

(1950). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31:138-143

Anxiety in Infancy: A Study of its Manifestations in the First Year of Life

René A. Spitz, M.D.

Limitations of time force me to omit references to authors who have investigated anxiety in infancy, such as S. Freud, Anna Freud, Greenacre, Melanie Klein, Odier, and many others. I must also omit definitions and quotations as well as the larger part of the theoretical conclusions arising from my findings. I will present mainly, in telegraphic style, the behaviouristic description of these empirical findings. They are gathered from observational material on 239 babies observed from the age of ten days to the age of one year; and on forty-five babies delivered without anæsthetic and observed from delivery to the tenth day.

At and immediately after delivery discharge phenomena can be observed in the newborn. They are in the nature of unpleasure, but strikingly brief and mild.

Immediately after birth the neonate's reaction to various stimuli is inconsistent, diffuse and unspecific. Even the famous Watson experiment of dropping the infant mostly does not elicit anything that could be qualified as anxiety. As for the provocation of rage (Watson) by restricting the infant's movements, that is a statement which belongs to the realm of fable and is based on improper observational technique. You will have the opportunity to see examples of all this in the motion picture.

I believe therefore that if we are to describe the psychological correlate of what we can observe in the way of emotions at birth and in the first weeks, we shall have to limit ourselves to the categories of unpleasure and quiescence only.

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