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Katz, H.M. (2004). Motor Action, Emotion, and Motive. Psychoanal. St. Child, 59:124-142.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 59:124-142

Motor Action, Emotion, and Motive

Howard M. Katz, M.D.

The experience, imagery, and fantasy of self in motion play a central part in the dreams, aspirations, and affective life of individuals, and in their growth.

Human infants are supplied with an intrinsic drive to move to, with, and against forces and objects in the natural world, for that action maps a developing self into the world. This striving is not derivative from some other drive; it is a motivational force in and of itself, intertwined with other essential strivings of the developing individual.

Clinical observations and recent findings of developmental and neurobiological studies demonstrate that positive aspects of a person's striving in the sphere of motor control imbue a person's sense of self with qualities of energy, agency, and mastery. And, when thwarted, distorted, or unbalanced in relation to other strivings, one's physicality may also be a locus for conflict and maladaptive defenses.

Schemas of self in relation to the world at large and especially to significant others are often encoded in procedural modes of remembering and perceiving, where movement is central. When the analyst is attuned to the experience of motor action in the life of the person he or she seeks to know fully and to help, the appreciation of that person's motives, emotions, and sense of self is deepened and enhanced.

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