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Mahler, M.S. Furer, M. (1966). 'Development of Symbiosis, Symbiotic Psychosis, and the Nature of Separation Anxiety'—Remarks on Weiland's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:559-560.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:559-560

'Development of Symbiosis, Symbiotic Psychosis, and the Nature of Separation Anxiety'—Remarks on Weiland's Paper

Margaret S. Mahler and Manuel Furer

We wish to offer the following comments on Dr Weiland's (1966) article, 'Considerations on the Development of Symbiosis, Symbiotic Psychosis and the Nature of Separation Anxiety'.

1. By 'separation-individuation' we mean an intrapsychic, developmental, gradual process of separation of the self, and the beginnings of the establishment of individual identity. We definitely do not mean physical separation in behavioural terms, which appears to be Weiland's interpretation of our concept. Weiland has quite clearly misunderstood our article, 'Certain Aspects of the Separation-Individuation Phase' (Mahler and Furer, 1963); furthermore he has quoted from this article, as well as from others, out of context, in such a way that his quotations convey a meaning almost contrary to their actual intent.

In the paper referred to, we clearly pointed out that, in contradistinction to most present-day studies on 'separation', our research in normal development was explicitly undertaken in a setting of the mothers' continual physical presence. We emphasized that, whereas most studies in this area are concerned with the sequelae of the child's physical separation from the mother and the traumatic effects of such separation on personality development, our research was designed for the study of the normal, intrapsychic separation-individuation process, which takes place within the physical and emotional availability of the mother.

This normal, intrapsychic separation process—which we made the focus of our research—paves the way to eventual 'object constancy' (Hartmann).

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