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Meissner, W.W. (2009). The Genesis of the Self: II. The Developmental Progression from Infancy to Rapprochement. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(2):219-259.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(2):219-259

The Genesis of the Self: II. The Developmental Progression from Infancy to Rapprochement

W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D.

The Developmental Progression

In the preceding paper (Meissner, 2009a), I focused on aspects of the self and the sense in which they could undergo development along disparate lines and stages of development, and in their respective ways contribute to the integration of a functional self-system and human personality. In this paper I consider the developmental process sequentially from its starting in infancy through the rapprochement period. In a following paper (Meissner, 2009b) I focus on further development of the self beyond rapprochement, through oedipal and latency periods to adolescence. The literature is vast and my discussion will of necessity be highly selective, focusing on what seem to me the most salient findings and studies relevant to the development of the self. My discussion will be centered on the dimensions of the self I previously delineated.

In general terms, Tyson (1996) has noted the decline in confidence in specifiable and differentiable stages of development, so that the idea of a clearly delineated oedipal phase, for example, has become anachronistic.1 Discriminable parameters of the developmental process are not always synchronous and the process may unfold with different degrees of delay, deviation, or deficit. As Tyson put it,

Recognizing any psychic systems that overlap, intertwine, and develop simultaneously but not necessarily at the same time, the stage theory no longer holds universal appeal (Stern, 1985; Pine, 1985).

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