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Downey, T.W. (1988). The Interpersonal World of the Infant: By Daniel N. Stern. New York: Basic Books, 1985. Pp. 304.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:139-140.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:139-140

The Interpersonal World of the Infant: By Daniel N. Stern. New York: Basic Books, 1985. Pp. 304.

Review by:
T. Wayne Downey

As I read Dr Daniel N. Stern's book, The Interpersonal World of the Infant, I was filled with questions; for this is an ambitious, wide-ranging and stimulating effort aimed at a re-integration of psychoanalysis and current views of infant psychology. It presents a quest for a 'free psychoanalysis'. As such it poses many provocative questions. It will stimulate even more questions in the reader. Are infants as conflict free as Stern represents them? Borrowing from a neutral source, what has happened to 'mewling and puking' in infancy? Is the infant's mental experience as asymbolic and aneurotic as Stern suggests? Is not conflictual experience as stress and distress internalized, becoming a part of psychic structure as a means of evening out the functioning of the mother-infant dual unit? Is there no need for the concept of a psychologically merged model of infant-mother interaction? Is it only finally in the middle of the second year of life that with the acquisition of speech the child becomes capable of symbolic and neurotic thought? Are we to dismiss the epigenetic model which has been so central to psychoanalytic theory on the basis of Stern's generalizations from the laboratories of infant observation? These are his assertions.

Stern is intent on establishing the presence of the infantile self in its various guises. He attempts to provide the infantile developmental underpinnings for a Kohutian type of self-psychology. He introduces the concept of infantile self states, 'domains' which persist in unmodified states throughout life.

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