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Ammaniti, M. Trentini, C. (2009). How New Knowledge About Parenting Reveals the Neurobiological Implications of Intersubjectivity: A Conceptual Synthesis of Recent Research. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(5):537-555.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(5):537-555

How New Knowledge About Parenting Reveals the Neurobiological Implications of Intersubjectivity: A Conceptual Synthesis of Recent Research

Massimo Ammaniti, M.D. and Cristina Trentini, Ph.D.

Observations of early mother–infant interactions have shown that intersubjectivity is a primary motivation and have underscored the importance of maternal competencies in this development. In our paper we propose a conceptual overview of the different perspectives according to which parental caregiving has been formulated. Psychoanalytical theory has fundamentally promoted the exploration of maternal and paternal intrapsychic constellation, by stressing the role of unconscious processes in parental attitude as well as in infant development. In contrast with psychoanalytical theory, the conceptual framework of attachment has mostly considered real interactions between parents and infant, underlining parental abilities in providing the infant with a secure base. Finally, infant research has explored the complexity of communicative system between parents and infants, which appears already active from the birth of the baby. Recently, these different viewpoints have been broadened by neurobiological research, which has begun to explore maternal brain functioning and structure, by means of new scientific instruments such as fMRI techniques. From these perspectives, we provide an overview of motherhood, underlining both neurobiological and psychological transformations, which begin from pregnancy and run through the first year of the infant, when the mother–infant intersubjective matrix is built. This matrix influences the construction of the infant's Self and support the development of the sense of “we,” a sort of connective net, which ties the baby to parents, letting him feel as a part of the familiar world.

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