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Frankel, S.A. (1994). The Exclusivity of the Mother-Child Bond: Contributions from Psychoanalytic and Attachment Theories and Day-Care Research. Psychoanal. St. Child, 49:86-106.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 49:86-106

The Exclusivity of the Mother-Child Bond: Contributions from Psychoanalytic and Attachment Theories and Day-Care Research

Steven A. Frankel, M.D.

Both the psychoanalytic and the attachment theory literature have raised concerns about interfering with the mother-child bond during the child’s first years. Their apprehension was that these disruptions could lead to psychopathology, some of which was considered serious and was classed as a disorder of attachment. The current research, discussed in this paper, challenges this view. Beginning in the first year of life, children seem capable of forming multiple bonds, while retaining the central importance of the mother-child bond. There is evidence that this core connection remains intact and has first priority in a child’s mind regardless of other opportunities to relate. On the other hand, in spite of these findings, most researchers remain convinced that when the child is exposed to a disruption which exceeds his limits and which occurs on a chronic basis that a variety of disturbances may result. Some of these may be subtle and might not become manifest until later in the child’s life. This paper attempts to explore the balance between the child’s capacity to meet its basic needs through the core maternal relationship and collateral bonds, and the disruptive forces which actually are pathogenic.

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