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Von Klitzing, K. Simoni, H. Bürgin, D. (1999). Child Development and Early Triadic Relationships. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(1):71-89.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(1):71-89

Child Development and Early Triadic Relationships

Kai Von Klitzing, Heidi Simoni and Dieter Bürgin

A study of early development beginning in pregnancy and extending to the end of the child's first year of life is presented. The aim is to understand the relational processes of early childhood by using the concepts of triadification and triangulation. A prospective longitudinal study was conducted with forty-one parents and their first-born infants. The parents' subjective views about their parenthood and the unborn child were systematically analysed during pregnancy, targeting their representations of their own childhood experiences, their partnership, and their relationship with their fantasised child. These dimensions were compared with the quality of dyadic and triadic parent–child interactions observed after the child was born. The pre-natally assessed level of triangulation in the parental fantasies correlated strongly with the quality of triadic interactions with the 4-month-old infant in a play situation and with the quality of dyadic interactions with the one-year-old infant in a stressful situation. The authors conclude that the child's relational development can be understood in triadic terms from the beginning, but that there is a regressive pull towards two-plus-one relationships under conditions of emotional dysregulation. Consequences for a psychoanalytic theory of early development are discussed.

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