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Spitz, R.A. (1950). Relevancy of Direct Infant Observation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 5:66-73.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5:66-73

Relevancy of Direct Infant Observation

Rene A. Spitz, M.D.

In the fifteen minutes at my disposal I had to decide between several possible approaches to our subject. The main ones are:

1. A discussion of the relation between psychoanalysis and developmental psychology from the methodological point of view.

2. An extremely compressed presentation of the contributions to psychoanalysis, theoretical and clinical, by the use in my own research of developmental, psychological and experimental methods.

In view of the fact that the methodological questions can and will be discussed by others I decided for the second approach, particularly since on that question I have first-hand factual information to offer. Our findings can be grouped into three categories:

1. The establishment of norms and regularities in the unfolding of the infant's mental and emotional development. Such norms have to be understood as representing broad generalizations of a statistical nature. They provide chronological age zones within which the emergence of certain behavior patterns, of certain emotional responses and of certain qualities of emotion can be expected with regularity to the point that quantitative statements about them are possible. With the establishment of such quantifiable regularities we gain a basis for comparison between various groups, which is indispensable for the purpose of further scientific investigation. It could be compared to such statistical statements as the statements made about the adult human by the temperature which in the normal varies around 98.6 degrees, his pulse which varies around 72, his breathing, his chemical characteristics, etc. As you all know, such statements are not "true" for the single individual but provide the basis for further investigation when significant deviations from these statistically achieved figures are observed. Accordingly we will expect that, when deviations from these psychological regularities occur, they will yield information of a clinical nature.

2. Findings which are relevant for psychoanalytic theory.

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