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Diatkine, R. (1960). Discussion of 'The Metapsychology of Pleasure'—Iii. Early Ego-Development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:375-376.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:375-376

Discussion of 'The Metapsychology of Pleasure'—Iii. Early Ego-Development

René Diatkine

Any discussion of the metapsychology of the instincts, and particularly of the metapsychology of pleasure, must take into consideration the fundamental transformation of human behaviour which occurs in the first year of life. It is greatly to the credit of the analysts who have studied this first year, and Spitz in particular, that they have shown how libidinal activity and object relationships are organized at this age, thus greatly enriching Freudian theory.

If we compare the behaviour of the infant in the first month after birth with that which it develops at the end of the first year we note several important facts. In the first month of life the human being has an instinctual behaviour comparable to the animal behaviour described by ethologists. A state of tension develops according to certain internal biological laws, and creates characteristic behaviour, such as a waking state, a largely periaxial hypertony, crying. A certain number of stimuli may provoke direction-finding movements of the head or lips, and sucking motions, and then, if the child's mouth is filled with liquid, swallowing occurs until enough nourishment is ingested to produce a 'state of quietude', with cessation of all sucking and swallowing, followed, at this period of life, by sleep.

This activity is characterized by its precise biological finality, and by the fact that it always corresponds strictly to certain definite levels of humoral equilibrium. The state of lack of satisfaction is a real state of need.

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