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Marcus, N.N. (1969). A Psychotherapeutic Corroboration of the Meaning of the Smiling Response. Psychoanal. Rev., 56C(3):387-401.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56C(3):387-401

A Psychotherapeutic Corroboration of the Meaning of the Smiling Response

Ned N. Marcus, M.D.

I.

René Spitz has revealed the unsuspectedly great importance of the smiling response as a basic mental organizer. In his book The First Year of Life10 he convincingly explains the manner in which the unfolding of an innate neuromuscular response-smiling-provides a framework upon which the individual ultimately elaborates ever more complex emotional and ideational intrapsychic realizations of drive satisfaction through the establishment of object relations.

The hypotheses generated by Spitz's work were a result of repeated observations of infants ranging from two to six months in age and were not, as is so often true of psychoanalytically oriented studies of children, a direct outgrowth of earlier findings connected with the psychoanalysis of adults. As a matter of fact, specific corroboration of Spitz's findings in the psychoanalytic literature dealing with adults has been lacking.

Kris6 in a paper reviewing contributions to the psychoanalysis of expressive behavior stated that “only rarely and in special cases (as in cases of tic) does one have the opportunity of bringing into the foreground of analytic discussions questions relating to the apparatus controlling expressive and general movement.” Brody1 maintained that laughter and, by extension, smiling were not common in analysis and when present were best left undisturbed.

This is not surprising.

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