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Call, J.D. (1964). Newborn Approach Behaviour and Early Ego Development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:286-294.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:286-294

Newborn Approach Behaviour and Early Ego Development

Justin D. Call

In this paper I shall attempt to establish a link between behavioural phenomena observed in the newborn infant and theory regarding early ego development.

Before presenting the film, I would like to mention some of our experiences, observations of others, and theoretical ideas which led us into the particular path we have taken. My earlier paediatric training had left me with a predilection for the study of personality development longitudinally. Dr Charles Tidd, a senior analyst at the University of California (Los Angeles), Dr William Beckwith, an ethologist, also working here, and I began observing mothers and infants several years ago with this broad interest in mind. We interviewed mothers during pregnancy, observed delivery, interviewed and observed mothers with their infants during the lying-in period, and have followed one of our subjects now through the fourth year. As a preparation for the more specific focus of the study to be reported today, this wide-angle view of development has been invaluable as a reference frame.

A study of infant feeding behaviour during the first four days of life was undertaken to determine whether or not adaptive patterns of response in the infant utilizing the snout region, posture, and hand-mouth unit of functioning, could be detected. Such an early adaptation seemed plausible on the basis of Freud's (1905) concept of orality as a primary phase of libidinal development, Erikson's (1950) extension of this to the sphere of ego development utilizing the concept of mutuality between infant and mother, Hartmann's (1939) theory of adaptation and inborn apparatuses of primary autonomy, and Hoffer's (1947) description of the hand-mouth relationship as an early unit of ego functioning.

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