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Gaddini, R. (1987). Early Care and the Roots of Internalization. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 14:321-332.

(1987). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 14:321-332

Early Care and the Roots of Internalization

Renata Gaddini


The roots of internalization and identification establish themselves in the infant's concrete physical ties to the mother. These ties are provided by the early basic processes which constitute child care and it is these which set the pattern for later experiences that lead to individuation.

Sucking at the breast is to be seen as the basic pattern of reunion after the separation of birth; by it the infant re-establishes continuity. In the breast's absence, nipple substitutes are used to satisfy the infant's need for contact, which means continuity—non-nutritional sucking. Nipple substitutes are called by the author precursors, (P.O.s) meaning that they precede symbolic representation.

When early concrete ties have been removed from an infant before the infant was able to see the mother as separate from the self, sterile fantasying occurs. This fantasying does not further development, it leads to general withdrawal into fantasy; to compulsions; to the elaboration of an imaginary companion. While it may appear a precocious development, it is in fact an impairment of internalization and introjection. A distortion in the process of individuation is typically involved.

The function of external reality which cannot be negotiated with properly is taken up (over?) by a self-created inner reality which is the remnant of the omnipotence experienced in the phase of early fusion with the mother.

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