Article

The Capacity for Understading Mental States: The Reflective Self in Parent and Child and Its Significance for Security of Attachment

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  • The New School for Social Research
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Abstract

Epidemiologists and psychoanalysts have been equally concerned about the intergenera-tional concordance of disturbed patterns of attachment. Mary Main's introduction of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) has provided the field with an empirical tool for examining the concordance of parental and infant attachment patterns. In the context of a prospective study of the influence of parental patterns of attachment assessed before the birth of the first child upon the child's pattern of attachment to that parent at 1 year and at 18 months, the Anna Freud Centre—University College London Parent-Child Project reported a significant level of concordance between parental security and the infant's security with that parent. In the context of this study, a new measure, aiming to assess the parent's capacity for understanding mental states, was developed and is reported on in this paper. The rating of Reflective-Self Function, based upon AAI transcripts, correlated significantly with infant security classification based on Strange Situation assessments. The philosophical background and clinical importance of the measure are discussed.Les épidémiologues et les psychanalystes sont tout aussi bien concernés et intéressés par la concordance intergénérationnelle de patterns d'attachement perturbés. L'introduction qu'a faite Mary Main de l'Interview d'Attachement Adulte a fourni un outil empirique pour l'examen de la concordance des patterns d'attachement parental et infantile. Dans le contexte d'une étude future de l'influence des patterns d'attachement parental évaluée avant la naissance du premier enfant sur le pattern d'attachement de l'enfant envers ce parent à l'ǎge d'un an et à dix-huit mois, le Centre Anna Freud, University College Londres, Parent-Child Project, a signalé un niveau significatif de concordance entre la sécurité parentale et la sécurité du nourrisson avec ce parent. Dans le contexte de cette étude, une nouvelle mesure, ayant pour but d'évaluer la capacité du parent à comprendre les états mentaux a été développée et fait l'objet d'un rapport dans ce travail. L'évaluation de l''“Observing Self Function,” basée sur la transcription de l'Interview d'Attachement Adulte, correspondait de manière signicative à la classification de la sécurité du nourrisson basée sur les évaluations de Situation Etrange. L'arrière-plan philosophique et l'importance clinique de la mesure sont discutés.

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... Mentalization is a complex construct and it can be measured by means of self-reporting Hausberg et al. 2012), observing interactions (Ensink et al. 2017;Sharp and Fonagy 2008), and analyzing narration. Within the framework of attachment-focused research based on narration analysis, it has been operationalized as (1) an adult's general Reflective Functioning (RF) coded from the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), which focuses on reflecting an individual's childhood experiences with his or her caregivers (Fonagy et al. 1991(Fonagy et al. , 1998, or (2) parental RF, which is coded from the Parental Development Interview (PDI; Slade 2005). Both operationalizations proved to be valid in parent-child relationship research, as various studies show a link between low RF in a mother and a child's attachment insecurity and behavioral problems (Camoirano 2017;Fonagy et al. 1991;Grienenberger et al. 2005;Meins et al. 2013;Smaling et al. 2016Smaling et al. , 2017. ...
... Within the framework of attachment-focused research based on narration analysis, it has been operationalized as (1) an adult's general Reflective Functioning (RF) coded from the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), which focuses on reflecting an individual's childhood experiences with his or her caregivers (Fonagy et al. 1991(Fonagy et al. , 1998, or (2) parental RF, which is coded from the Parental Development Interview (PDI; Slade 2005). Both operationalizations proved to be valid in parent-child relationship research, as various studies show a link between low RF in a mother and a child's attachment insecurity and behavioral problems (Camoirano 2017;Fonagy et al. 1991;Grienenberger et al. 2005;Meins et al. 2013;Smaling et al. 2016Smaling et al. , 2017. In this study, we decided to measure general RF in mothers, because we assumed that in the context of a child's externalizing behavior problems, a mother's selfregulatory skills might play a fundamental role. ...
... While a large number of studies have been conducted on the associations between mother's mentalization skills, her attachment style and a child's psychosocial functioning in infancy and early childhood (Camoirano 2017;Centifanti et al. 2016;Fonagy et al. 1991;Grienenberger et al. 2005;Meins et al. 2013;Smaling et al. 2016Smaling et al. , 2017, studies focusing on the later stages of a child's development are scarce (Benbassat and Priel 2012;Bizzi et al. 2019;Borelli et al. 2016;Esbjørn et al. 2013;Sharp et al. 2007). ...
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Objectives Externalizing behavior problems are considered to be a serious impediment to a child’s development, and therefore it is important to identify their predictors. In this study, we investigated the connections between school-aged boys’ externalizing problems, the mother’s reflective functioning (RF) and the mother’s perception of her childhood relationship with her own caregivers. Methods The study sample comprised 39 school-age boys diagnosed with externalizing behavior problems together with their mothers. A child’s psychopathology was assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist and Teacher Report Form. Our assessment of the mothers’ mentalizing capacities was based on the Adult Attachment Interview and Reflective Functioning Scale. The perception of a mother’s childhood relationship with her parents was assessed using the Parental Bonding Instrument. Results The analysis revealed that more severe cases of aggressive and rule-breaking behavior in boys were associated with lower RF in mothers, as well as with a mother’s perception of her childhood relationship with her own parents as less autonomous. More aggressive behavior in boys was also associated with a mother’s perception of herself as experiencing a higher degree of care from her father during her own childhood. Conclusions These are only preliminary findings and we have discussed them with a view to understanding the possible ways in which a mother’s RF and the intergenerational context of relationship quality are associated with externalizing behavior problems in middle childhood.
... There is growing appreciation for the importance of unpacking the developmental correlates of attachment quality for children with ASD (Dissanayake and Sigman 2001; Rogers et al. 1991 Rogers et al. , 1993 Sivaratnam et al. 2015; Slade 2009 ). This interest comes with the recognition that children with ASD exhibit early-emerging and biologicallydriven impairments in social and emotional capacities, such as facial emotion recognition, social communication, reciprocity, and theory of mind (American Psychiatric Association 2013; Baron-Cohen et al. 1985; Cassel et al. 2007; Dawson et al. 2004; Nuske et al. 2013), that are central to typical processes underlying attachment formation and ongoing relating within child-caregiver relationships (Fonagy et al. 1991). There may be a unique and complex interplay between biologically-based impairments in ASD and the environmental factors that direct attachment formation and quality (Sivaratnam et al. 2015). ...
... It has been widely established within typical dyads that attachment quality is transmitted across generations, from parent to child; secure parents are more likely to have secure children, supposedly due to the secure parent's capacity to provide more emotionally attuned, sensitive and responsive caregiving (van IJzendoorn 1995). Contemporary mentalisation-based attachment literature recognises the importance of the child having some capacity to attend to and comprehend parent signalling in order to benefit from emotionally attuned and responsive care, and similarly the importance of the caregiver being able to accurately perceive child signalling in order to form an attuned response is also emphasised (Fonagy et al. 1991; Slade 2009). If children with ASD are unable to perceive their caregiver's sensitive caregiving, and furthermore, if they are unable to signal their needs in a clear and comprehensible manner that can be interpreted by caregivers, there may be a disruption in the usual process by which these children might develop secure attachment (van Ijzendoorn et al. 2007). ...
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There has been limited study of the relationship between child attachment and caregiver wellbeing amongst children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined self-reported child attachment quality alongside caregivers’ report of their own psychological distress, parenting stress and attachment style, amongst 24 children with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s disorder (ASD; aged 7–14 years) and 24 typically developing children (aged 7–12 years), and their primary caregiver. Children with ASD were no less secure, but their caregivers were more stressed and reported more attachment-related anxiety, compared to typically developing dyads. Child attachment security was related to caregiver psychological distress and attachment style, but only amongst typically developing children. Impacts of emotion processing impairments on caregiver-child relationships in ASD are discussed.
... Investigaciones recientes han mostrado la existencia de determinadas características en el cuidador que promueven la existencia de un apego seguro, el cual es considerado la base que permite un desarrollo pleno del niño/a (Fonagy y Target, 1998) y ha sido relacionado con el desarrollo de la Teoría de la Mente (ToM) en la infancia temprana (Allen, Fonagy y Bateman, 2008; Fonagy, 1999; Fonagy y Target, 1997; Mesa y Gómez, 2010; Solbakken, Hansen y Monsen, 2011). Una de estas características ampliamente estudiada en las últimas décadas es la mentalización, concepto que fue introducido por Fonagy para referirse a la capacidad de comprender la propia mente y la de los otros a partir de estados mentales como intenciones, sentimientos, pensamientos , deseos y creencias (Fonagy et al., 1991), con la finalidad de dar sentido y anticipar las acciones de cada uno (Fonagy y Target, 1997). Gracias a esta capacidad las personas pueden entender que el comportamiento propio y el de los otros están ligados de modo significativo y predecible a sentimientos e intenciones subyacentes, que pueden ser dinámicos y cambiantes (Fonagy, et. ...
... Por tanto, se considera de gran importancia el conocer los estudios relacionados con el tema por tratarse de un concepto recientemente instaurado. Sin embargo, en su mayoría los estudios que se han orientado a evaluar la capacidad de los adultos significativos de concebir al niño/a como un agente psicológico se han focalizado principalmente en establecer la relación que esta capacidad del adulto tiene con el desarrollo del apego (Fonagy et al., 1991), el desarrollo de la teoría de la mente (Meins, Fernyhough, Wainwright, Das Gupta, Fradley y Tuckey, 2002; Ruffman, Slade y Crowe, 2002; Ruffman, Slade, Devitt y Crowe, 2006), la cooperación del/la niño/a (Ruffman, et al., 2006) o el ajuste psicosocial (Sharp, Fonagy y Goodyer, 2006). De este modo, hay muy pocos estudios que evalúen los efectos de programas de intervención en mentalización o función reflexiva y son aún menos los que se desarrollan en contextos de educación preescolar. ...
Article
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Recent studies have shown the importance of mentalizing or reflective function of caregivers as one of the variables that predict awareness and secure attachment in children. From this background there is a review of the literature on psychological interventions focused on promoting mentalizing or reflective function in parents and preschool educators. 17 studies published between 2000 and 2013 are considered. The results show that most of the studies analyzed and developed in theoretical models, with those who consider emerging studies based on mentalizing aimed at parents and educators interventions. Within the latter most are aimed at early intervention in children aged 0-3 years, with few studies in preschool children (3-5 years old) within an educational context that the effects reported in children.
... Pour cette raison, ces demandes ne pourraient être perçues ou traitées. Dans ce type de fonction réflexive, capacité du parent à percevoir ses propres états mentaux et ceux de son enfant (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran et Higgitt, 1991), a été proposée comme facteur de transmission. La capacité à pouvoir donner du sens aux états internes de l'enfant, à ses émotions, ses pensées et ses intentions permettrait au parent de comprendre les ressentis de l'enfant. ...
... Despite using different terminologies in their conceptualization of the self, many authors make a distinction between two core dimensions of the self; the " reflective self " and the " embodied self " (Emde et al., 1991; Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991; Gallagher, 2000). The notion of the embodied self (Meissner, 1998) locates the self in the body and forefronts the dimension of subjectivity that is commonly ignored in conceptualizations that focus on the cognitive dimensions of the self, as if the self could be abstracted from the body (Fonagy & Target, 2007). ...
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Childhood sexual abuse is a known risk factor for the development of mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood. However, the developmental mechanisms are not well understood. We hypothesized that sexual abuse has an early impact on the development of the self, which plays a key role in adaptation following the trauma. We posit that many of the negative impacts of abuse on the developing self affect sensory-motor states, as well as one’s own body experience, and remain mostly out of cognitive awareness. This study presents a new method to assess the impact of sexual abuse on children’s embodied self-experience in a sample of 68 children aged 5–13 (43 children with histories of sexual abuse and 25 nonabused children). A coding procedure was developed for use with the mirror paradigm (MP) to assess 4 dimensions of children’s embodied self-experience (MP-CESE). The MP consists of a semistructured interview during which the child is requested to answer questions while looking at his image in a vertical mirror. Findings indicate that the embodied self- experiences of children with histories of sexual abuse were significantly more negative than those of nonabused controls. Embodied self-experience scores as measured with the MP-CESE correlated significantly with parent reports of internalized behaviors, externalized behaviors, dissociation and sexualized be- haviors, as well as teacher’s reports of children’s externalizing behaviors. This suggests that the MP-CESE is a reliable measure that provides access to disturbances of the embodied self in school-age children, which cut across numerous behavioral problems.
... Second, individuals who have experienced secure attachment relationships report higher levels of attentional control (Caldwell & Shaver, 2013; Walsh, Balint, Smolira, Fredericksen, & Madsen, 2009) and perform better on behavioral tasks requiring flexible management of attentional resources (Caldwell, Krug, Carter, & Minzenberg, in press; Edelstein & Gillath, 2008). Third, mindfulness appears closely related to the construct of " reflective function " or " mentalization, " which refers to the capacity to understand one's own and others' behavior in terms of underlying mental states, thoughts, beliefs, and intentions (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991). Secure individuals have been shown to have higher levels of reflective function, which enables them to adopt an " observing stance " regarding their own attachment experiences, even when these experiences have been difficult or traumatic. ...
... It consists of vignettes investigating the child's comprehension of other persons' beliefs, intentions, and emotional states and it appears to have moderate internal consistency and good discriminant validity. A different set of clinical tools, specifically created for adults, investigates different, albeit related cognitive ability, namely selfreflection (Fonagy et al., 1991), and metacognition (Semerari et al., 2003). Self-reflection is the capacity to understand and reason upon one's own and other's states like feelings, thoughts, fantasies, beliefs, and desires (Gergely et al., 2002). ...
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This research aimed at the evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Theory of Mind Assessment Scale (Th.o.m.a.s.). Th.o.m.a.s. is a semi-structured interview meant to evaluate a person’s Theory of Mind (ToM). It is composed of several questions organized in four scales, each focusing on one of the areas of knowledge in which such faculty may manifest itself: Scale A (I-Me) investigates first-order first-person ToM; Scale B (Other-Self) investigates third-person ToM from an allocentric perspective; Scale C (I-Other) again investigates third-person ToM, but from an egocentric perspective; and Scale D (Other-Me) investigates second-order ToM. The psychometric proprieties of Th.o.m.a.s. were evaluated in a sample of 156 healthy persons: 80 preadolescent and adolescent (aged 11 to 17 years, 42 females) and 76 adults (aged from 20 to 67 years, 35 females). Th.o.m.a.s. scores show good inter-rater agreement and internal consistency; the scores increase with age. Evidence of criterion validity was found as Scale B scores were correlated with those of an independent instrument for the evaluation of ToM, the Strange Stories task. Confirmatory factor analysis showed good fit of the 4-factors theoretical model to the data, although the 4 factors were highly correlated. For each of the four scales, Rasch analyses showed that, with few exceptions, items fitted the Partial credit model and their functioning was invariant for gender and age. The results of this study, along with those of previous researches with clinical samples, show that Th.o.m.a.s. is a promising instrument to assess ToM in different populations.
... Mentalizing, or reflective functioning, refers to the ability to think about one's own mental states and those of others, and to recognize how these mental states can affect behavior (Fonagy et al. 1991(Fonagy et al. , 2002. ...
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Parental reflective functioning refers to the parents’ ability to reflect on their children’s mental states, and is increasingly considered to be a key feature of competent parenting. However, to date, no study has empirically investigated this assumption. The main objective of the present study was therefore to investigate the mediating role of parental competence in the relationship between parental reflective functioning and children’s socioemotional adjustment. We also investigated whether these relationships were similar for mothers and fathers. The study was carried out in a sample of 433 mothers and 113 fathers of infants aged from 2 to 36 months. Participants had to complete the Spanish version of the Perceived Parental Competence Scale, the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire and the Ages & Stages Questionnaire. Results showed, as expected, that parental competence mediated the association between parental reflective functioning and infants’ emotional adjustment. Multigroup analysis supported the invariance of the structural model across mothers and fathers. The implications of these results for pediatric and primary care are discussed.
... Pour cette raison, ces demandes ne pourraient être perçues ou traitées. Dans ce type de fonction réflexive, capacité du parent à percevoir ses propres états mentaux et ceux de son enfant (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran et Higgitt, 1991), a été proposée comme facteur de transmission. La capacité à pouvoir donner du sens aux états internes de l'enfant, à ses émotions, ses pensées et ses intentions permettrait au parent de comprendre les ressentis de l'enfant. ...
... La funzione riflessiva è la capacità materna di concepire il bambino come essere mentale e di restituirgli questa immagine attraverso un processo di contenimento mentale (Fonagy et al., 1991; Fonagy et al., 1997; Fonagy et al., 2002; Slade, 2005). All'interno della prospettiva di Erikson (1950 Erikson ( , 1968) dello sviluppo psicosociale, il conflitto del primo stadio, tra gli otto complessivi, ossia quello che copre il periodo che va dalla nascita sino ai 12-18 mesi, è fiducia vs. sfiducia. ...
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In this work we present a new semi-projective task, that analyses jointly the mentalistic ability or theory of mind, the affective relationships and trust dimensions (both in affective terms and cognitive terms). In particular, our aims are to investigate: the development of trust in three different groups of age; the link between trust dimension and ToM ability; the link between trust dimension and attachment. The participants are 80 children divided by age into three groups: 6-year-old children; 8-years-old children; 10-years-old children. Each child individually completed a battery of tests: a false belief task; the Separation Anxiety Test and the Trust Story. The results underline the developmental trend. With regard to the link between theory of mind and trust the statistical analysis allow us to underline that the trustful profile is a crucial element account for mentalistic ability.
... It is therefore easier for adolescents' to become fully committed to the therapeutic process. Their capacity to internalize and reflect upon both positive and negative internal emotional states facilitates therapeutic intervention, making them ideal candidates for therapy [38]. However, most adolescents seen in therapy possess an insecure attachment and may present dysfunctional relational styles thus complicating the therapeutic process. ...
... In fact, we argued this position strongly some time ago in relation to the multifaceted concept of resilience (). Genuinely identifying the mental states underpinning even hostile behaviour appears to reduce the impact of that experience on current functioning (Fonagy et al. 1991; Hesse 1999; Allen 2001; Slade 2005). Here we are aiming to link social cognition to a universal human tendency to 'turn around' passivity, helplessness, and lack of response and create (or re-create) activity, control, and human connection through accurately elaborating intentional states behind actions. ...
... What could be the causes of these results with low validity (despite good internal consistency of the instruments): (1) In relation to family questions, the answers are positive exhibiting an intense process of idealization of the parents signalizing the insecurity of the child (Kriss, Steele & Steele, 2012); (2) Most responses are given in the absence of reflections on the content of the question (sometimes in the answer spaces the respondents created cross stitch patterns without reading the questions). The low reflective capacity is tightly connected with the insecure attachment and lack of capacity for self-organization (Fonagy et al., 1991); (3) Given the low level of education (mode: 5 classes), reading and comprehension items was difficult to achieve. The team of researchers with the classroom teachers have met this situation, and tried to ensure solution to this problem and to help individuals; (4) Mental retardation or mental illness or disability. ...
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This study focuses on the resilience of delinquent children, youth and children who are serving a sentence of imprisonment in an educational center. In Romania, according to official statistics in June 2014, there are a number of 218 children of both sexes, aged between 14-18 years, in this situation. By 2009, when the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) draws attention to the Romanian state on the rights of children deprived of liberty, these children were silenced, and the child protection system in Romania did not assume responsibilities on them. According to longitudinal internal statistics, approximately 75-80% of the children and youth serving a custodial sentence are found, years later, in adult prisons. These statistics are consistent with the percentage of resilience found internationally on populations of vulnerable children. Since the first research on resilience, in the 70s, it was noted a rate of 20-25% of resilient children, despite the vicissitudes that they faced during childhood, were able to overcome them. The percentage of natural resilience of children was later confirmed in other research aimed to highlight the resilience, and in recent years this proportion of resilience was confirmed on children adopted in England from institutions in Romania. Using three questionnaires specific for investigating the level of resilience of youth, data were collected on a total of 70 adolescents, 61 boys and 9 girls, aged between 14-18, from an educational center for children. Only 53 questionnaires were valid and entered into our database. The questionnaires aimed to highlight the risk and protection factors to which they were exposed, respectively, which the children benefited from in their existence and prior to their admission in the educational center. The third questionnaire identifies the elements of resilience of children. Data collection was conducted in November 2014. The results of the investigation can serve to a universal preventive strategy based on evidence (evidence-based) and to an ‘Assistance’ of the resilience of delinquent children in these centers. More than in the case of adults, in children and youngsters, the major concern in establishing educational measures running an offense should aim building their resilience. Society cannot close its eyes to these destinies loss or the increase of crime through the 75-80% of children and youth in educational centers who become adult criminals.
... Thus, siblings may have been more resistant to the overtures of their new adoptive parents than were single adopted children. Nevertheless, since it was beyond the scope of our qualitative investigation, we were unable to make assessments of other factors, such as each child's attachment behaviours or each parent's capacity for understanding mental states, which might have meant that these parents struggled more than did others in the sample (see Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran and Higgitt, 1991). In the families we studied the adopted sibling pairs also included all the older children in our sample. ...
Article
Our prospective study investigated couples' expectations of adoptive parenthood and explored how these changed with their actual experience of parenthood. Six heterosexual couples were interviewed just before placement began and 6 months after the children had arrived. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse both sets of interview data. Expectations of adoptive parenthood mostly transformed smoothly into adoption experience for couples, but challenges were experienced when family scripts collided and a continued feeling of unsafe uncertainty then prevailed within these newly formed family systems. Family script collision seemed a particular problem for couples adopting sibling pairs. To further professional practice in working with families over the transition to adoptive parenting, we suggest that professionals keep in mind a framework that includes the following: Internal and external world influences on family members, Intergenerational issues, Family scripts and the Structural challenges of adoption (IIFS).
... According to Turkle (2006), the mobile phone (and Internet) gives us an opportunity to communicate " whenever we have a feeling " , which may make us to be unable to reflect on our own emotions. As people with insecure attachment style have difficulties with self-reflection (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991; Fonagy, Steele, Steele, & Leigh, 1995; Fonagy & Target, 1997), the reliance on the outside validation of their inner states through the mobile (and Internet) communication may increase their dependence on others and may also expose them to the danger of e.g. 'oversharing'. ...
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Humans have a biological predisposition to form attachment to social partners, and they seem to form attachment even toward non-human and inanimate targets. Attachment styles influence not only interpersonal relationships, but interspecies and object attachment as well. We hypothesized that young people form attachment toward their mobile phone, and that people with higher attachment anxiety use the mobile phone more likely as a compensatory attachment target. We constructed a scale to observe people's attachment to their mobile and we assessed their interpersonal attachment style. In this exploratory study we found that young people readily develop attachment toward their phone: they seek the proximity of it and experience distress on separation. People's higher attachment anxiety predicted higher tendency to show attachment-like features regarding their mobile. Specifically, while the proximity of the phone proved to be equally important for people with different attachment styles, the constant contact with others through the phone was more important for anxiously attached people. We conclude that attachment to recently emerged artificial objects, like the mobile may be the result of cultural co-option of the attachment system. People with anxious attachment style may face challenges as the constant contact and validation the computer-mediated communication offers may deepen their dependence on others.
... Parental RF is defined as the mother's capacity to make sense of her child and herself as a parent in terms of underlying mental states such as thoughts, feelings, desires, and beliefs (Slade, 2005 ). This capacity has been consistently shown to be related to both adult and infant attachment security (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991; Meins, Fernyhough, Fradley, & Tuckey, 2001; Slade, Grienenberger, Bernbach, Levy, & Locker, 2005), and is associated with disrupted maternal behaviors that are prevalent in disorganized attachment relationships (Grienenberger, Kelly, & Slade, 2005). This empirical support for the importance of infant attachment security, parental sensitivity, and RF has informed clinical work with parents and infants and provided a focus for how to intervene and promote positive early relationships (Bakermans-Kranenburg, van IJzendoorn, & Juffer, 2003; Sadler, Slade, & Mayes, 2006). ...
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There is a dearth of good-quality research investigating the outcomes of psychoanalytic parent-infant psychotherapy (PIP). This randomized controlled trial investigated the outcomes of PIP for parents with mental health problems who also were experiencing high levels of social adversity and their young infants (<12 months). Dyads were clinically referred and randomly allocated to PIP or a control condition of standard secondary and specialist primary care treatment (n = 38 in each group). Outcomes were assessed at baseline and at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups. The primary outcome was infant development. Secondary outcomes included parent-infant interaction, maternal psychopathology, maternal representations, maternal reflective functioning, and infant attachment. There were no differential effects over time between the groups on measures of infant development, parent-infant interaction, or maternal reflective functioning. Infant attachment classifications, measured only at the 12-month follow-up, did not differ between the groups. There were favorable outcomes over time for the PIP-treated dyads relative to the control group on several measures of maternal mental health, parenting stress, and parental representations of the baby and their relationship. The findings indicate potential benefits of parent-infant psychotherapy for improving mothers' psychological well-being and their representations of their baby and the parent-infant relationship.
... 45 Several researchers have argued that maternal sensitivity is based on (and thus must be preceded by) an ability to think about the child's inner world (e.g., Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991;Meins, 1997Meins, , 1999. For example, researchers (e.g., Meins, 1999;Stern, 1985) have proposed that thinking about the child's mind allows mothers to be responsive and empathic in their parenting in that it allows mothers to respond to the 50 thoughts, emotions, or desires underlying their child's behavior. ...
Article
Objective: Mental-state talk is an important aspect of parenting, but it is not clear whether this type of talk is structurally distinct from behavioral support or sensitivity. Although assessment of sensitive, supportive behavior captures a mother's responses to her child's needs, mental-state talk assesses a mother's consideration of (and comments on) her child's inner world. This study examined the structure and antecedents of mental-state talk, behavioral support, and sensitivity. Design: Data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development were used, and mothering was assessed during a laboratory session when children were 24 months old (N = 1114). Results: Confirmatory factor analyses provided support for the hypothesized three-factor model, in which maternal supportive behavior, cognitive talk, and desire/emotion talk formed distinct factors. Furthermore, maternal depressive symptoms assessed at 1 and 6 months predicted less supportive behavior, whereas traditional parenting beliefs assessed at 1 month predicted lower levels of all three mothering outcomes. Conclusion: Maternal talk about mental states is a unique component of parenting, and cognitive talk is distinct from desire and emotion talk.
... Empirically, psychotherapy improves narrative coherence about emotionally relevant events (Adler et al., 2013). Fonagy and colleagues (Fonagy et al., 2002Fonagy et al., , 1991b Fonagy and Target, 2005) extended attachment theory and modern psychoanalytic theory to include the concept of mentalization (Fonagy et al., 1998). Mentalization is strongly linked with attachment and they develop hand in hand (Bowlby, 1988 ): parents' mindful and sensitive parenting increases both secure attachment and mentalization in a child (Bowlby, 1979Bowlby, , 1988 Fonagy et al., 1991a; Meins et al., 2001; Slade, 2005). ...
... There was a pathway from mothers' RF to later infant attachment (both infant attachment security and infant attachment disorganization) through mothers' negative behaviours. These findings extend that of Fonagy et al. (1991) that mothers' RF (on the AAI) was associated with infant attachment security, and show that mother's RF is also associated with infant attachment disorganization . The findings that better mentalization is associated with maternal sensitivity is in line with the theory that there is an intergenerational pattern of transmission in which mothers' RF, developed in the context of their own early attachment relationships , helps to make infant behaviour meaningful and underlies sensitivity. ...
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The aim of this prospective study was to examine temporal pathways from mothers’ reflective functioning (RF) through parenting to infant attachment measured more than 16 months later. Participants were 88 mother–infant dyads from demographically diverse backgrounds and included a group of mothers with histories of childhood maltreatment. RF was assessed using the RF rating of the Adult Attachment Interview before the birth of the baby. Parenting was assessed when the infants were 6 months old using the Maternal Sensitivity scale, as well as when they were 16 months using the Disconnected and Extremely Insensitive Parenting scale. Infant attachment was assessed when the infants were 16 months old using the Strange Situation. As hypothesised, the study findings showed that mothers’ mentalization regarding their own early attachment relationships was associated with later parenting and infant attachment. Negative parenting behaviours explained the link between mothers’ RF about their own attachment relationships and infant attachment disorganization. The findings suggest that mothers’ mentalization about their early attachment relationships has important implications in the transition to becoming parents themselves. Mentalization appears to be particularly important in helping mothers screen and inhibit negative parenting behaviours that would otherwise undermine infant attachment security and organization.
... It can help the parent better hypothesize the motivational roots of the child's behavior, a set of abilities called mentalization (or reflective functioning). Mentalization capacity has been shown in itself to be a powerful predictor of infant–parent attachment security (Fonagy et al., 1991; Fonagy and Target, 2005; Slade, 2005a,b; Schechter et al., 2006; Salder et al., 2008; Steele and Steele, 2008; Berthelot et al., 2015). ...
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This case series study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of a behavioral/cognitive psychological intervention in a pediatric primary health care setting during standard well-baby visits. The aim of the intervention was to support caregivers’ sensitivity and mentalization in order to promote infant mental health. Four neonates from birth to eight months were consecutively enrolled to test a short video-feedback intervention (Primary Care - Video Intervention Therapy, an adaptation of George Downing's Video Intervention Therapy to primary care) conducted by a pediatrician. The five minute interaction recording and the video-feedback session were performed during the same well-baby visit and in the same pediatrician's office where the physical examination was conducted. During the study period, six video-feedback sessions were performed for each baby at different ages (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 months). Filmed and discussed were a series of different interactional situations: touch, cry, affective matching, descriptive language, feeding, separation and autonomy. The intervention was easily accepted and much appreciated by all four families enrolled. This study aimed to answer a dilemma which pediatric providers generally face: if the provider wishes to respond to not only physical but also infant mental health issues, how on a practical level can this be done? This case series study indicates that Primary Care - Video Intervention Therapy deserves to be seen as a promising new tool for such a purpose.
... For example, organization is reflected in the consistency between the general characterization of the relationship with the parent and specific episodic memories that are brought as support for this characterization. Also influential were attachment researchers who followed Main's path and developed maternal interviews that focused on the " internal working model " of the child (e.g., Bretherton, Biringen, Ridgeway, Maslin, & Sherman, 1989; Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgit, 1991; George & Solomon, 1999; Slade, Belsky, Aber, & Phelps, 1999; Zeanah, Benoit, Hirshberg, Barton, & Regan, 1994). This line of research made headway in studying mothers' representations of their children. ...
Chapter
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In her description of sensitive mothers, Ainsworth described not only maternal behaviors but also the internal processes underlying such behavior, including the capacity to "see things from the child's point of view". Ainsworth assessed this capacity from her extensive observations of mothers interacting with their infants, from records of mothers' talk to the babies, and from brief interviews about their babies. Attachment researchers following Ainsworth focused primarily on observations of maternal sensitive behavior, however, and the processes underlying such behavior were mostly inferred from the mothers' behavior. The Insightfulness Assessment (IA), a video replay procedure in which mothers are interviewed regarding their children's thoughts and feelings after they watch brief video clips of their children, was developed to assess systematically and directly the mother's ability to take the child's perspective. This paper uses examples from the IA to show how it captures many of the internal processes underlying caregiving behavior which Ainsworth described. Data supporting the IA's validity is reviewed, which suggest that the IA can complement observations of mothers' caregiving behavior in order to obtain a more comprehensive assessment of maternal sensitivity.
... Being mentalized by the parent has indeed been demonstrated to promote attachment security (for a metaanalysis, see Zeegers et al. 2017). Several studies reported associations among PRF and (subsequent) child attachment (Arnott and Meins 2007;Berthelot et al. 2015;Fonagy et al. 1991;Kelly et al. 2005;Koren-Karie et al. 2002;Meins et al. 2012;Oppenheim and Koren-Karie 2002;Pazzagli et al. 2018). Further, there is growing empirical evidence for the role of PRF with regard to child development beyond attachment (for a review, see Ensink and Mayes 2010;Katznelson 2014). ...
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Parental attachment and parental reflective functioning (PRF) have been shown to be related to attachment, mentalizing capacities, and psychopathology in children. Studies also suggest that parental insecure attachment is related to lower levels of PRF. However, no study has directly investigated whether PRF dimensions mediate the relationship between parental attachment dimensions and features of social–emotional development other than attachment, mentalizing, and psychopathology. We prospectively investigated whether PRF mediates the relationship between parental attachment dimensions (i.e., levels of attachment avoidance and anxiety) and social–emotional competences and problems, using data from a 1-year longitudinal study of first-time parents and their biological children (N = 106). We found that low PRF as assessed with the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire at 1-year follow-up, was an intervening variable in the relationship between parental attachment dimensions at time 1 and child social–emotional development at time 2. In particular, maternal attachment avoidance and paternal attachment anxiety were indirectly related to child competences and problems through high levels of prementalizing modes (i.e., attributing malevolent mental states to the child and an inability to enter the child’s internal world). In addition, in mothers only, there was a partial mediation effect of PM in the relation between attachment anxiety and child competences.
... Highly reflective parents consider their own and their child's mental states (e.g., thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs, and intentions) when interpreting behavior. These parents are curious about their child's mind and understand that mental states can change over time as a function of development (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991;Slade, 2005). Parents with low levels of RF seem unaware of their own and/or their child's internal experiences and may deny emotional experiences associated with parenting. ...
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This study assessed the links between infant negative affect, parental reflective functioning (RF), and toddler behavior problems in a sample of 84 women and their infants. Mothers provided self-report demographic data and completed the Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised during a home visit when the infant was 7 months old. They also completed the Child Behavior Checklist over the phone when their infant was 18 months old. During a lab visit when their infant was 16 months old, mothers participated in the Parent Development Interview–Revised Short Form, which was coded for R F. Results suggest that parental RF was not associated with infant negative affect or toddler behavior problems. However, infant negative affect correlated positively with toddler behavior problems and both correlated with cumulative sociodemographic risk. Results of a moderation analysis revealed that RF moderated the relationship between infant negative affect and toddler behavior problems, such that when parental RF was high there was a nonsignificant relationship between infant negative affect and toddler behavior problems.
... Taken together, these results indicate that RF aids in distinguishing between individuals classified as secure and dismissing on the AAI. Consistent with previous research (Fonagy et al., 1991; Slade, 2005), RF scores were higher for individuals classified as secure on the AAI than for individuals classified as insecure. These findings suggest that RF demonstrates considerable overlap with traditional AAI coding. ...
Article
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This investigation examined the structure of reflective functioning (RF) - an understanding of the links between mental states and behaviors - and adult attachment scales. Both RF and traditional adult attachment scales were coded based on 194 prebirth Adult Attachment Interviews (AAI). Correlational and factor analyses indicated considerable overlap between RF and traditional AAI coding. Exploratory factor analyses of RF and AAI state-of-mind scales indicated that RF loaded, along with coherence of mind, on the primary factor distinguishing between individuals categorized as secure and dismissing. These findings indicate substantial overlap between RF and AAI scales; however, the magnitude of the correlations between these scales indicates that they are not redundant.
... Conversely, another study has reported that substance-using mothers tend to adopt an avoidant narrative style, which seems to be associated with low levels of reflective functioning and to scarcely sensitive behaviors in interacting with the infant (108). Parent's reflective functioning (109)(110)(111) has been considered as one of the fundamental characteristics underlying the ability to take care and protect the child, in the context of the intergenerational transmission of attachment (105). An insecure and unresolved attachment style in adulthood is associated to poor reflective abilities, which can interfere with parent's ability to consider their child's behaviors and feelings in terms of mental states (112). ...
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Children's emotional and relational development can be negatively influenced by maternal substance abuse, particularly through a dysfunctional caregiving environment. Attachment Theory offers a privileged framework to analyze how drug addiction can affect the quality of adult attachment style, parenting attitudes and behaviors toward the child, and how it can have a detrimental effect on the co-construction of the attachment bond by the mother and the infant. Several studies, as a matter of fact, have identified a prevalence of insecure patterns among drug-abusing mothers and their children. Many interventions for mothers with Substance Use Disorders have focused on enhancing parental skills, but they have often overlooked the emotional and relational features of the mother–infant bond. Instead, in recent years, a number of protocols have been developed in order to strengthen the relationship between drug-abusing mothers and their children, drawing lessons from Attachment Theory. The present study reviews the literature on the adult and infant attachment style in the context of drug addiction, describing currently available treatment programs that address parenting and specifically focus on the mother–infant bond, relying on Attachment Theory.
... Bowlby conceived mentalistic conversations an important mechanism to transmit the parental attachment model to the child, although attachment researchers fi rst concentrated on Ainsworth's (Ainsworth et al., 1974 ) proposal of maternal sensitivity as the essence of caregiving during the fi rst year of life. Today, mentalization (Fonagy, Steele, Moran, Steele, & Higgitt, 1991 ) or mind mindedness – the maternal competence to correctly read the infant's mental states behind behaviors and to comment correctly and adequately on these states and processes (Meins, Fernyhough, Fradley, & Tuckey, 2001 ) – are considered as re-conceptualizations of sensitivity and necessary precursors of the development of secure attachment relationships (Meins, Fernyhough, Johnson, & Lidstone, 2006 ). ...
Chapter
In the 1960s, US journalist Alice Shabecoff moved together with her German husband and two young children to Germany, where she – as a mother – got fi rst hand experiences with German childrearing. In 1966, Shabecoff published those experiences in the New York Times with the title “Bringing up Hansel and Gretel.” In this article she points out that German parents raise obedient, respectful, quiet, and polite children. Her own children – in contrast – did not behave as well, were outspoken, and showed less respect for authority. She ascribed this stark contrast to diff erent underlying educational philosophies, using as an example family meals, for which German advisory books for parents state: “you give the child” (Haarer, 1940 ), whereas American advisory books say: “you off er the child” (Spock, 1946 ). Shabecoff hoped that foreseeable economic changes would also change the educational principles in Germany towards a more democratic and liberal education. She concludes her article by saying that the thought of such a change appeases her as a US citizen, as German children will learn to act out of their own convictions and considerations, instead of blindly following orders of authoritative fi gures. These considerations are rooted in the authoritarian legacy of Hitler Germany. In 2011, the German weekly newspaper Spiegel published a column called “Other Parents’ Monsters” (Die Monster anderer Eltern; Patalong, 2011 ). The author, Frank Patalong, describes here that his wife, who is Irish, was shocked by German children’s behavior, considering them as a-social, having no manners, showing no respect, being impolite and arrogant. Obviously, something happened with respect to educational ideologies in Germany over the last 50 years. In order to understand parenting in Germany today, we will fi rst go back in historical time and briefl y glance through parenting in Germany during the last centuries.
... This might to some degree be a function of normal development, as similar results have been identified by others using relatively young mothers and a comparable timespan between pre-and postnatal assessment of RF (Sadler et al., 2013). Apparently maternal RF develops as the mother grows more into the maternal role, becomes more experienced with her infant, and mother and child get to know each other better (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991). Supporting this claim, Poznansky (2010) found that as the infant became gradually more known to the mother, RF-levels increased between 10 and 28 months post-partum. ...
Article
Maternal reflective functioning (RF) has been associated with children’s behavioral development. This study examined maternal prenatal and postnatal RF, as measured by the Pregnancy Interview and Parent Development Interview, as multidimensional constructs. It was also examined whether the RF-dimensions were associated with children’s temperament and externalizing behavior, as assessed by several questionnaires. The sample consisted of 123 first-time mothers (M age = 22.85 years, SD = 2.21) and their children (M age = 19.97 months, SD = 0.85, 56% male). Two related but distinct dimensions were found for prenatal RF, termed self-focused and child-focused mentalization. Three dimensions were observed for postnatal RF, termed self-focused, child-focused, and relation-focused mentalization. Results showed that prenatal RF negatively related to reported child physical aggression. Postnatal self-focused RF was positively linked to externalizing behavior and negative emotionality in offspring, while relation-focused RF scores were negatively associated with child physical aggression. Findings show that it is important to also look at the specific RF-dimensions when examining the effects of maternal RF on children’s behavioral development, as differential associations with behavioral outcomes exist. Discussion further focuses on the importance of these findings in prevention and clinical practice, and suggestions are being made to further improve the measurement of maternal RF-dimensions.
... The term reflective functioning (RF) (here used synonymously with the term mentalizing) was first popularized through work on borderline personality disorder (BPD) [1][2][3][4] and parentinfant attachment [5,6]. The notion of mentalizing refers to the capacity to reflect on internal mental states such as feelings, wishes, goals, and attitudes, with regard to both the self and others. ...
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Reflective functioning or mentalizing is the capacity to interpret both the self and others in terms of internal mental states such as feelings, wishes, goals, desires, and attitudes. This paper is part of a series of papers outlining the development and psychometric features of a new self-report measure, the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (RFQ), designed to provide an easy to administer self-report measure of mentalizing. We describe the development and initial validation of the RFQ in three studies. Study 1 focuses on the development of the RFQ, its factor structure and construct validity in a sample of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Eating Disorder (ED) (n = 108) and normal controls (n = 295). Study 2 aims to replicate these findings in a fresh sample of 129 patients with personality disorder and 281 normal controls. Study 3 addresses the relationship between the RFQ, parental reflective functioning and infant attachment status as assessed with the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) in a sample of 136 community mothers and their infants. In both Study 1 and 2, confirmatory factor analyses yielded two factors assessing Certainty (RFQ_C) and Uncertainty (RFQ_U) about the mental states of self and others. These two factors were relatively distinct, invariant across clinical and non-clinical samples, had satisfactory internal consistency and test-retest stability, and were largely unrelated to demographic features. The scales discriminated between patients and controls, and were significantly and in theoretically predicted ways correlated with measures of empathy, mindfulness and perspective-taking, and with both self-reported and clinician-reported measures of borderline personality features and other indices of maladaptive personality functioning. Furthermore, the RFQ scales were associated with levels of parental reflective functioning, which in turn predicted infant attachment status in the SSP. Overall, this study lends preliminary support for the RFQ as a screening measure of reflective functioning. Further research is needed, however, to investigate in more detail the psychometric qualities of the RFQ.
... Eventually, just the thought of the secure-attachment figure (e.g., mother) can calm down a stress reaction in the child. Thus, secure attachment can counter stress and indicates capacities to regulate affect through and within intimate social relationships (Allen & Fonagy, 2002; Fonagy, Steele, Moran, Steele, & Higgitt, 1991). Attachment security is related to positive outcomes that can be carried into adulthood such as social skills and self-regulation (Kochanska, 2002; Sroufe et al., 2005). ...
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Following prior work linking childhood experience to adult outcomes, we used an evolutionary framework to examine effects of childhood experience on adult psychopathology and morality. Every animal provides an early life developmental system, developmental manifold or “niche” for its young, a set of inherited extra-genetic characteristics that match up with the maturational schedule of the offspring to optimize development. Humans inherit a niche first shaped over 30 million years ago with the emergence of social mammals and modified through human evolution. The human “evolved developmental niche” (EDN) has been related to positive outcomes in young children. Using an adult sample (n = 606), we examined adult retrospective recollection of childhood EDN and its relation to attachment, psychopathology, sociomoral capacities, and ethical orientations. Significant direct and indirect effects were found through mediation models, with EDN predicting Social Engagement orientation through perspective taking, Social Opposition orientation through lack of perspective taking and Social Withdrawal orientation through personal distress.
... Le concept de supervision réflexive a été introduit par Fonagy en 1991 (Fonagy, et al., 1991), puis a été développé à partir des années 2000 (Gilkerson et Shahmoon-Shanok, 2000 ; Parlakian, 2001 ; Gilkerson, 2004 ; Heffron, 2005Une sixième catégorie de recommandations concernant les qualités et comportements de la personne supervisée pendant la séance a été identifiée lors de la première étape du processus Delphi, mais aucune des propositions en question n'a été jugée essentielle par l'ensemble des experts lors du dernier tour du processus Delphi en question. L'équipe actuelle a utilisé cette même méthodologie Delphi (Linstone et Turoff, 1975 ; Fish, et Busby, 2005 ; Keeney, et al., 2001 ; Sharkey et Sharples, 2001Greacen, et al., 2016). ...
Article
Good practice in individual supervision in the perinatal home-based CAPEDP mental health promotion program : the supervisees’ point of view on their supervisors’ best practice recommendations Individual supervision of home visiting professionals is a key element for the efficiency and efficacy of perinatal home visiting programs. Although studies have been published concerning quality criteria for supervision in North American contexts, little is known about this subject in other national settings. This article describes the modalities of individual supervision implemented in the CAPEDP program, the first randomized controlled perinatal prevention research program to take place in France, and the results from a study using the Delphi process to identify, two years into the program, the supervisors point of view concerning best practice for the individual supervision of home visitors involved in such perinatal home visiting programs (Greacen, et al., 2016). The recommendations identified by the supervisors were then presented, again using the Delphi method, to the home visitors themselves to ascertain their point of view concerning these recommendations. The study reveals that, although there is a high level of consensus across both groups, the Delphi process with the home visitors underlines the importance, for these young psychologists working with families in difficult psychosocial contexts, not only of reflective supervision but also of clinical guidance on more practical issues.
... Transcripts of the interviews were coded independently by two trained raters, who were blind to study essentials, with an interrater agreement of 80%. Participants were coded as 'dismissive' (Ds), 'preoccupied' (E), 'secure' (Free autonomous F) or 'unresolved' with regard to 'trauma/loss' (U) and were also rated on the Reflective-Self Functioning Scale (RF) (Fonagy et al., 1991). The AAI was administered two years after the first AAP assessment and after intervention was completed. ...
... The prereflective self (the self-body) is the immediate and mostly unconscious experiencer of life. By contrast, the reflective self (i.e., reflecting upon what one feels, believes, or wishes) is the internal observer of what is consciously and unconsciously experienced (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991). The immediate sense of self mostly derives from feelings (Arnold & Modell, 2008). ...
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Without a contextualized definition of self, a growing body of educational research in Asian countries attempts to measure students’ sense of self, such as self-esteem. The research is usually based on theories and measurements that characterize students as conscious and independent selves in an individualist society. This sharply contrasts with the interdependent and unconscious sense of self in a collectivist society. To avoid a misleading assessment of self, researchers and policy makers need to know how students develop a self-construal in a sociocultural context. Therefore, this review of the cultural differences aims to provide a multifaceted definition of self.
... Our finding that infants of mothers with both PPD and PD had an elevated risk of attachment insecurity might be explained by lowered maternal sensitivity as a result of impaired mentalization and difficulties with affect regulation during mother-infant interactions. Accordingly, studies have found parental mentalization to be related to infant-mother attachment (Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991; Slade, Grienenberger, Bernbach, Levy, & Locker, 2005), as well as acting as a mediator between the quality of mother-infant affective communication and infant-mother attachment quality (Grienenberger et al., 2005). More research is needed to evaluate whether mentalization and sensitivity during mother-infant interaction can explain negative effects of depression and co-morbid personality disorder on child socio-emotional outcomes. ...
Article
Previous studies on effects of postpartum depression (PPD) on infant-mother attachment have been divergent. This may be due to not taking into account the effects of stable difficulties not specific for depression, such as maternal personality disorder (PD). Mothers (N=80) were recruited for a longitudinal study either during pregnancy (comparison group) or eight weeks postpartum (clinical group). Infants of mothers with depressive symptoms only or in combination with a PD diagnosis were compared with infants of mothers with no psychopathology. Depression and PD were assessed using self-report and clinical interviews. Infant-mother attachment was assessed when infants were 13 months using Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). Attachment (in)security was calculated as a continuous score based on the four interactive behavioral scales of the SSP, and the conventional scale for attachment disorganization was used. PPD was associated with attachment insecurity only if the mother also had a PD diagnosis. Infants of PPD mothers without co-morbid PD did not differ from infants of mothers with no psychopathology. These results suggest that co-existing PD may be crucial in understanding how PPD impacts on parenting and infant social-emotional development. Stable underlying factors may magnify or buffer effects of PPD on parenting and child outcomes.
... For instance, Fonagy et al. developed a scale to be used with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), in which responses to certain questions are coded on an 11-point scale, from ''bizarre'' to ''high reflective functioning,'' based on their capacity to reflect upon the feelings and intentions of their own primary caregivers and discuss how those mental states were linked to their parents' behavior (Fonagy et al. 1998). Initial research using data from the London Parent–Child Project found that parents classified as secure-autonomous on the AAI were more likely to be rated high on reflective functioning and to have an infant classified as secure in the SSP at one year old (Fonagy et al. 1991). In contrast, parents who were rated low on reflective functioning were more likely to be classified as insecure with regard to attachment relationships and have children who were also insecure. ...
Article
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Research consistently links adult and infant attachment styles, yet the means by which attachment is transmitted is relatively elusive. Recently, attention has been directed to the psychological underpinnings of caregiver sensitivity—originally thought to be the mechanism of transmission—as indicated by caregivers’ ability to keep in mind children’s mental states when interpreting children’s behavior, or reflective functioning. Unfortunately for researchers, extant measures of reflective functioning are time-consuming and require extensive observation and coding. A self-report measure could help facilitate the study and assessment of reflective functioning in research and clinical settings. This study investigated the relationship between parental reflective functioning and multiple aspects of the parent–child relationship, by using a new, self-report measure of reflective functioning. Participants were 79 caregivers (M age = 31.8 years) who completed self-report measures assessing reflective functioning, parent–child relationship characteristics, perceived rejection in early relationships, attachment anxiety and avoidance in current close relationships, depression, and substance use. The results indicated that reflective functioning is a strong predictor of parent–child relationship quality (i.e., parental involvement, communication, parent satisfaction, limit setting, and parental support), independent of other potential indicators. Findings support parental reflective functioning as a contributor to the quality of parent–child relationship and suggest that a parent’s capacity to reflect on the mental states of his or her child in parent–child interactions may provide a key target for interventions that aim to improve parent–child relationships.
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The purpose of the study was to examine the efficacy of an attachment-based intervention program practiced at an outpatient clinic. Changes in parental insightfulness and dyadic emotional availability were assessed in 32 mother-child dyads from pre- to post-intervention. At both data collection points, mothers were interviewed with the Insightfulness Assessment and the mother-child dyad was observed in play sessions coded with the Emotional Availability Scales. Findings revealed a strong association between maternal insightfulness and dyadic emotional availability, both before and after treatment. In terms of intervention efficacy, positive gains were observed in both insightfulness and dyadic emotional availability from pre- to post-intervention. Mothers who changed their classifications from non-insightful to insightful following the intervention showed the greatest gains in emotional availability. These findings have important implications for the type of interventions and service delivery model that could work in real world clinical settings.
Article
Mind-mindedness captures a caregiver's attunement to his or her infant's mental states, and the tendency to interpret behavior as resulting from these mental states. The construct is assessed through analysis of maternal language during interaction or from mothers' use of mental state words when invited to describe their child. This study examined whether maternal-fetal attachment predicted maternal mind-mindedness, whether there was continuity in mind-mindedness over the first 2 postnatal years, and concordance for the two approaches to measurement. One hundred fifty women completed a questionnaire measure of maternal-fetal attachment in the third trimester of pregnancy and participated in home visits to assess maternal mind-mindedness when their infants were 7 months and 19 months of age. Path analysis showed that maternal-fetal attachment predicted indices of maternal mind-mindedness at 7 and 19 months; mothers who made more mind-related comments during play at 7 months also did so at 19 months, and mothers who made more mind-related comments during play at 19 months also used more mental state words when describing their child. Results suggest that a proclivity to mind-mindedness may be a caregiver characteristic that is present prior to birth and stable over time.
Chapter
I genitori e la famiglia, soprattutto nei primi anni di vita del figlio, svolgono una funzione fondamentale di matrice del suo sviluppo neuromentale, affettivo-cognitivo e sociale (Imbasciati, 2006a). Quando qualcosa nella relazione primaria genitore-bambino non funziona ottimalmente, per la struttura psichica del genitore, per avvenimenti traumatici, problemi riferibili all’ambiente esterno, disagi psicosociali o conflittualità familiari (depressione post partum, psicosi puerperali), anomalie sopraggiunte durante la gravidanza o il parto (gestosi o altre patologie, nascita prematura, gemellare, patologie del bambino) oppure a seguito di maltrattamenti, abusi, abbandoni subiti da parte del proprio genitore, tutte le situazioni a rischio nell’ambito della genitorialità in cui le funzioni di cura e protezione dei figli sono disturbate e influenzano la qualità della relazione genitore-bambino (Candelori, Mancone, 2001a) — i sintomi di malessere nei neonati e nei bambini piccoli si manifestano psicosomaticamente attraverso i canali della comunicazione corporea. Nel neonato la sofferenza si esprime attraverso il corpo, con sintomi fisici, così come tutta la comunicazione bambino-caregiver avviene attraverso i canali di una comunicazione corporea. Crescendo, il bimbo potrà disporre di mezzi più elaborati per esprimere il suo stato di sofferenza psicologica, attraverso i disturbi del comportamento.
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La tecnica e la pratica terapeutica di orientamento psicoanalitico sono notevolmente mutate negli ultimi decenni, in particolare per il minore consenso relativo ai concetti di pulsione e di energie psichiche in favore di un maggiore interesse suscitato dalla dimensione relazionale dell’esperienza terapeutica, dalle dinamiche emozionali (in termini di transfert e controtransfert), dai processi di mentalizzazione e dalla comunicazione non verbale.
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Veel patiënten met borderline hebben een gebrek aan zelfreflectie en inlevingsvermogen. Ze hebben moeite met mentaliseren. Dat betekent dat ze zichzelf niet van buitenaf kunnen zien en niet weten wat er in een ander omgaan. Hoe bevorder je bij deze patiënten het mentaliserend vermogen?
Chapter
Attachment theory concerns the nature of early experiences of children and the impact of these experiences on aspects of later functioning of particular relevance to personality disorder. The question we attempt to address here is how deprivation, in particular early trauma, comes to affect the individual’s propensity to personality disorder. As part of this question we are naturally also concerned to understand how such adverse consequences may be avoided. The key assumption made by the invoking of attachment theory is that individual social behaviour may be understood in terms of generic mental models of social relationships constructed by the individual. These models, although constantly evolving and subject to modification, are strongly influenced by the child’s experiences with the primary caregivers. Let us now turn to the details of the theory.
Conference Paper
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The innovations introduced by the Dynamic-Maturational Model of attachment and adaptation (DMM) are extremely useful for the comprehension of the clinical process and particularly compatible with the psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy. Therefore, the possibility of a DMM based Dynamic Psychotherapy (DMM-DP) can be considered (Baldoni 2011, 2012). The DMM analyzes clinical problems in terms of attachment strategies in relation to the environment, considering patient's and therapist's attachment pattern and their interactions. Attachment assessment techniques in the DMM, especially the AAI, are relational experiences. They offer not only information, but also the possibility of insight and change for the patient and they assume an implicit therapeutic value by fostering the working alliance. Some of these assessment techniques can be used as part of a DMM based Parent Training (DMM-PT) which integrates psychodynamic and psycho-educational interventions (including the use of the CARE-Index as a video-feedback). The DMM serves as a useful framework in guiding verbal interventions (questions, observations, reformulations, interpretations, self-disclosure) in brief and long-term dynamic psychotherapy. However, DMM treatment for the most severe patients-rather than focusing only on verbal intervention and following recent psychodynamic research-underlines the importance of the analysis of countertransference, relational dynamics, mentalization processes, expression and regulation of emotions, change in setting, and non-verbal communication. The DMM follows a biopsychosocial approach-inserting people and problems into systems, subsystems and different levels of systems-and integrates different techniques (psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, psycho-educational, systemic). As a consequence, the therapist tends to be more active than in a classical psychoanalytic approach. Different techniques can be used by the same therapist or by different therapists in an integrated protocol. The goal is to offer a tailored cure based on the patient's needs. Therapist training is important and requires constant follow-up and Randomized Controlled Trials for assessing treatment efficacy in an evidence-based perspective.
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Internal working models (IWMs; Bowlby, 1969/1982) develop before language and are, initially at least, pre-symbolic, nonverbal notions. With reflective functioning (RF; Fonagy, Steele, Steele, Moran, & Higgitt, 1991) we have the possibility to refashion IWMs based on language, but linguistic skills only develop between 18-24 months, and then steadily over time. Reliable instruments are available to assess these constructs in infancy and adulthood: The Strange Situation observational measure (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) reveals the infant’s IWMs of his caregivers, while the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; Main, Hesse, & Goldwyn, 2008; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985) exposes the adult speaker’s capacity for RF. This paper addresses the middle ground of early adolescent children who are not yet mature enough to respond to a full AAI, but are too old to expect that an observational attachment measure would reveal much about their inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about attachment. We outline an interview protocol designed for 9 to 16-year old children, asking about self, friends, teachers, and family, with the aim of elucidating both IWMs, regarding earlier experience, and the extent of RF concerning past and present experiences. The protocol is the Friends and Family Interview (FFI; Steele & Steele, 2005), which has a mul-tidimensional scoring system to be elaborated with verbatim examples of response from both low-risk community samples, and higher-risk samples of youth.
Chapter
Approaching health care situations through the lens of critical linguistics provides us with many informative ways of looking at how language is used to characterize vulnerable clients. In this chapter we will draw upon critical language study, including the work of Fairclough and the Nottingham Health Language Research Group, to examine how the clients and indeed the health professionals involved in the treatment of borderline personality are being subtly reformulated in line with broader changes in the policy framework and wider society. In order to make sense of the implications this has for the way we think about social processes and how notions of mind, self and society fit together, we will be drawing on Michel Foucault (for example, 1977) and Nikolas Rose (for example, 1990) who have done much to integrate questions relating to what we think of as the mind to larger-scale structures, events and policies. This, we believe, has important implications for clinicians and scholars of health care and hospital language and communication.
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The Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure (SWAP) Insight Scale (Lehmann & Hilsenroth, 2011) was used to assess patient insight before treatment, and the Comparative Psychotherapy Process Scale (CPPS; Hilsenroth, Blagys, Ackerman, Bonge, & Blais, 2005) was used to assess subsequent therapist techniques in early treatment sessions. Participants in this study (N = 93) were seeking outpatient treatment at a university-based community clinic. Therapists completed the SWAP Insight Scale to describe their patients after the therapeutic assessment and the first 2 therapy sessions. External raters completed the CPPS from an early treatment session (3rd/4th). Patient pretreatment level of insight was significantly related to CPPS ratings of early session techniques: therapists' identification of similar relationships over time (CPPS #5; r = .24, p = .02), presentation of alternative understanding of experiences through interpretations (CPPS #13; r = .26, p = .01), and association of recurrent patterns of action/feelings/experiences (CPPS #14; r = .21, p = .05). Evaluation of mediation with different psychotherapy process scales revealed that patient's agreement with therapists may impact the relationship between insight and CPPS #5. After accounting for therapist effects, the association between insight and CPPS #5 was no longer significant. In sum, these analyses indicate that greater patient insight was associated with more frequent therapist focus on patients' diverse understanding of experiences, as well as on recurrent patterns of actions, feelings and thoughts throughout the session, during early treatment sessions. These results (CPPS #13 & 14) remained significant when examining issues of global psychopathology, a range of related psychotherapy process variables, and therapist effects. The clinical application of these findings is discussed.
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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a debilitating disorder that occurs in approximately 1% to 3% of the general population. BPD is not only relatively prevalent; it is also associated with significant public health and security concerns. The clinical and social burden of adult BPD diagnosis has resulted in the desire for early diagnosis and the implementation of early intervention programs. A qualitative review of the scientific literature suggested that adolescence is a critical point for the early identification and therapeutic treatment of BPD. Although findings are far from conclusive, the inter-rater reliability and internal consistency of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders symptom criteria for BPD during adolescence seem adequate. Recent studies based on a rigorous methodology of BPD assessment and large community samples reported prevalence rates for BPD diagnosis during adolescence that were less suspect than previous findings. A number of research studies addressed the construct validity of BPD in adolescents (i.e., whether a BPD diagnosis during adolescence actually measures what is intending to measure) and reported consistent relationships between BPD and associated areas of dysfunction and distress as evidence of the validity of the BPD diagnosis. Research evidence indicates that there is no single symptom that is predictive of later BPD diagnosis during adolescence; rather, a pattern of two to three selected BPD symptoms that are evident during adolescence seemed to be highly predictive of later BPD diagnosis, particularly when measures that were specifically designed to assess for BPD during adolescence were used as part of the assessment process. Full Text XML PDF
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Dieser Artikel der Zeitschrift für Psychodrama und Soziometrie diskutiert Morenos Tele-Konzept vor dem Hintergrund der neurobiologischen Forschung. Das Tele-Konzept beruht auf der grundlegenden Vorstellung der potentiell wechselseitigen und biologisch fundierten Verbundenheit allen Seins, sein Ansatz erscheint vor dem Hintergrund aktueller neurobiologischer Forschung als visionäre psychotherapeutische Pionierleistung. Auf Basis dieser Erkenntnisse kann der psychodramatische Telebegriff neu reflektiert und eine Erweiterung angedacht werden.
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This paper aims to synthesise the literature on attachment in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), highlighting gaps in current research and applications for clinical practice. The research databases PsycINFO, Ovid Medline, and the Cochrane Library were searched for the terms “autism” and “attachment”. Forty papers investigating attachment in children with ASD were identified and narratively reviewed. Seven samples were identified that reported attachment classifications using the Strange Situation Paradigm, with an average of 47% of children with ASD classified as secure (n = 186). With research to date concluding that children with ASD can form secure attachments, studies are now looking at risk and protective factors in the development of attachment, correlates of attachment, attachment disorders in children with ASD, and attachment-based interventions for children with ASD. Many of these studies are preliminary investigations with contradictory findings reported, highlighting important directions for future research.
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This article describes an infant-toddler court team in Michigan, the community-based participatory research approach to the implementation evaluation, and the resulting changes in parenting. Like other court teams, Michigan's Baby Court is led by a science-informed jurist, and all service providers are knowledgeable about the developmental needs of young children and engage in collaborative communication throughout the case. Relationship-based treatment in the form of infant mental health home-visiting was provided to families. Sixteen parents participated in pre- and posttest evaluation visits to assess changes in parents' reflective functioning and interactions with their child. Findings suggest improvements in parents' responsiveness, positive affect, and reflective functioning, with moderate effects. Higher risk parents demonstrated significant changes in reflective functioning, as compared to those at lower risk. These findings add to and support the limited literature on the effectiveness of infant-toddler court teams, which include relationship-based and trauma-informed services. © 2019 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.
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Numerous children around the world are forced to make multiple moves with their mothers in and out of refuges for abused women. Each time, they experience a sudden upheaval of their familiar environment. For these children, domestic violence and flight from violence is not an isolated event but part of their upbringing. Few statistics and little research exist on their living conditions and experiences. This article adopts the children’s perspective, examining the ways their teachers recognize their situation and offer them support. Experiences were collected in qualitative interviews with 20 children of ages 6–16 residing at Norwegian refuges. The choice of “mutual recognition” (Schibbye 2009) as a theoretical framework was inductively generated from the data. The constructivist grounded theory coding system was implemented as a data analysis method (Charmaz 2014). The analysis produced five different forms of teacher recognition—formal, practical, third-party, forced, and coincidental—through which teachers offered children various forms of support. © 2016 Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
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The development of children's verbal communication about feeling states was studied by analyzing naturally occurring conversations at home. The data were recorded during two longitudinal studies. In Study 1, 43 second-born children were observed with mother and older sibling at 18 and 24 months. In Study 2, 16 firstborn children were observed with mother and younger sibling at 25 and 32 months. Both studies showed that by 2 years of age, the majority of children referred to a range of feeling states in self and other, and they discussed the cause of feeling states in a variety of contexts (including pretend games). References to feeling states made by mother and older sibling when the target child was 18 months were positively correlated with the target child's speech about feeling states at 24 months. Both mothers and older siblings mentioned feeling states more frequently to girls than to boys. By 24 months, the girls themselves referred to feeling states significantly more often than boys. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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We use a new model of metarepresentational development to predict a cognitive deficit which could explain a crucial component of the social impairment in childhood autism. One of the manifestations of a basic metarepresentational capacity is a ‘theory of mind’. We have reason to believe that autistic children lack such a ‘theory’. If this were so, then they would be unable to impute beliefs to others and to predict their behaviour. This hypothesis was tested using Wimmer and Perner's puppet play paradigm. Normal children and those with Down's syndrome were used as controls for a group of autistic children. Even though the mental age of the autistic children was higher than that of the controls, they alone failed to impute beliefs to others. Thus the dysfunction we have postulated and demonstrated is independent of mental retardation and specific to autism.RésuméLes auteurs présentent un nouveau mod`éle de développement méta-cognitif pour prédire le déficit cognitif qui rendrait compte d'un composant essentiel du handicap social de l'enfant autiste. Une des manifestations d'une capacité de base méta-cognitive est une ‘theorie de l'esprit'. Nous avons des raisons de croire que cette théorie fait defaut chez l'enfant autiste. Celui-ci serait done incapable d'attribuer des croyances aux autres ou de prédire leur comportement. Cette hypothèse a été testée avec le paradigme de jeu des marionettes utilisé par Wimmer et Perner. Des enfants normaux et des enfants avec trisomie 21 ont servi de groupe contrôle. Bien que Page mental des enfants autistes ait été plus élevé que deux du groupe contrôle, seuls les enfants autistes Wont pu attribuer aux autres des croyances. Ainsi le dysfonctionnement prévu a pu être démontre, il s'avère indépendant du retard mental et spécifique a l'autiste.
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This article focuses on issues pertaining to describing and making causal inferences about close relationships. It begins by considering the features that define relationships, and particular attention is drawn to the concept of "interdependence." Two levels of interdependence—the interpersonal and the psychological—are differentiated, and issues having to do with gathering data regarding each level are identified. The reader is taken through the steps necessary to go from conceptualizing the phenomena of interest to the measurement of those phenomena. Sources of unreliability and threats to construct validity are discussed. Advantages and disadvantages of various measurement strategies are indicated, with the idea of setting forth the issues that bear upon the choices researchers make regarding data collection strategy. Finally, problems pertaining to conducting research on the causes of relationship features are examined.
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Ethological attachment theory is a landmark of 20th century social and behavioral sciences theory and research. This new paradigm for understanding primary relationships across the lifespan evolved from John Bowlby's critique of psychoanalytic drive theory and his own clinical observations, supplemented by his knowledge of fields as diverse as primate ethology, control systems theory, and cognitive psychology. By the time he had written the first volume of his classic Attachment and Loss trilogy, Mary D. Salter Ainsworth's naturalistic observations in Uganda and Baltimore, and her theoretical and descriptive insights about maternal care and the secure base phenomenon had become integral to attachment theory. Patterns of Attachment reports the methods and key results of Ainsworth's landmark Baltimore Longitudinal Study. Following upon her naturalistic home observations in Uganda, the Baltimore project yielded a wealth of enduring, benchmark results on the nature of the child's tie to its primary caregiver and the importance of early experience. It also addressed a wide range of conceptual and methodological issues common to many developmental and longitudinal projects, especially issues of age appropriate assessment, quantifying behavior, and comprehending individual differences. In addition, Ainsworth and her students broke new ground, clarifying and defining new concepts, demonstrating the value of the ethological methods and insights about behavior. Today, as we enter the fourth generation of attachment study, we have a rich and growing catalogue of behavioral and narrative approaches to measuring attachment from infancy to adulthood. Each of them has roots in the Strange Situation and the secure base concept presented in Patterns of Attachment. It inclusion in the Psychology Press Classic Editions series reflects Patterns of Attachment's continuing significance and insures its availability to new generations of students, researchers, and clinicians.
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Contends that children's understanding of certain mental functioning (e.g., perceptual experience, memory, intentions, emotions) suggests a general developmental hypothesis: Young children view the mind as passive in relation to the external world and regard external events as determining subjective experience, whereas older children know many ways that psychological activities influence experience. This knowledge may enhance their perspective-taking abilities. Evidence concerning Piaget's hypotheses about children's ability to distinguish mental events from physical events and to consider the perspectives of others is discussed. The proposed passive-to-active developmental trend is used to interpret research findings on children's understanding of a variety of mental phenomena. Children's ability to use information from monitoring their own internal states and information conveyed by others about the mental world is also related to the hypothesized developmental trend. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Examined whether an infant's reaction to a stranger would be indirectly influenced by the infant's observing a stranger–third party interaction. It was expected that the infant's subsequent willingness to play with a stranger would be influenced by prior observation of a positive interaction between a stranger and a third party, especially if the third party was the infant's mother. 45 15-mo-old infants were exposed to 1 of 3 situations. In Condition 1, the S observed its mother interacting with an unfamiliar adult (UA2) in a positive manner; in Condition 2, the S observed UA2 interacting with another unfamiliar adult (UA1) in a positive manner; and in Condition 3, UA2 did not interact with the mother or UA1. Following exposure to Conditions 1, 2, or 3, UA2 approached the S to play. Ss in Conditions 1 and 2 were less wary of UA2 and more willing to interact with the mother than were Ss in Condition 3. Furthermore, Ss in Condition 1 showed more positive affect when offered a toy by the stranger and accepted a toy more in the last minute of play. Results suggest indirect effects influence social interactions and show that significant others can play an important role in mediating these effects. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This publication is based upon a further study of the children in the Hampstead Nursery, a residential nursery for infants and young children who have lost their homes and often also their parents as the results of war conditions (see 18: 1933). It is devoted to a comparison of the general development of these children with that of children living a normal family life. Though up to 5 months the infant in the residential nursery may develop relatively well, because physical conditions are superior to those of the ordinary working class home, yet after that age he is usually at a disadvantage. The lack of continuous and intimate emotional relationship with the mother and the absence of the other contacts of normal family life produce a retardation in emotional development, intellectual and speech development, and habit training. The institutional children are insecure, more clinging to adults, and more aggressive to one another, and indulge in more fantasy life and autoerotic gratification. It may be also that the development of character and conscience is impeded by the lack of the normal love objects, who, at the same time, represent the demands and regulations of a society with which the child can identify himself. These difficulties can be overcome to some extent by providing a mother substitute, a nurse who has more or less complete charge of a group of children of different ages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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See 33:8025 (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This book will be of interest to psychologists, educators and philosophers. It highlights the child's increasing insight into the complexity and subtlety of our mental life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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26 of the author's papers, covering a period of 25 years (1931-1956), are collected in this volume and divided into 3 sections: emotional problems of child development, the impact of psychoanalytic concepts on pediatrics, the author's original contributions to psychoanalytic theory and practice. The 26 chapters deal with such subjects as: psychoses and child care, the antisocial tendency, pediatrics and childhood neurosis, appetite and emotional disorder, hate in the counter-transference, withdrawal and regression, aggression and emotional development. 89-item bibliography. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Psychoanalysts are impressed by differences between patients in terms of the rate at which psychic change occurs. They are aware that an individual's capacity for change is difficult to predict on the basis of symptoms and history alone. In trying to understand why some patients change relatively quickly whilst others are refractory to treatment, numerous theoretical constructs related to the nature of pathology have been put forward. These include pathological internalized object relations, pathological unconscious fantasy, early trauma, adhesiveness of libidinal fixations, imbalances in defensive structure, ego restrictions, deficits in ego functioning and object relatedness and pathological psychic organizations. The multiplicity of available accounts to explain the variability of the rate of psychic change in itself suggests the need to reexamine the issue. In this paper we wish to complement our developmental psychoanalytic approach with a cognitive perspective in an attempt to understand the problem of the rate and stability of psychic change.
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A group of British born married primigravidae who had been separated temporarily or permanently from one or both parents before the age of 11, were matched for age and social class by a group of controls who were denied such separations. Interviews were carried out at 3 monthly intervals during the first year of the baby's life, and the mother's mental and physical health, marital problems and management of the baby were explored. Statistically significant differences were found between the 2 groups in many respects. Some of the findings are reported in detail. It is suggested that a question about the mother's childhood should be incorporated in antenatal case schedules. This should help to pinpoint women who needed special support from their family doctor and health visitor.
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Understanding of another person's wrong belief requires explicit representation of the wrongness of this person's belief in relation to one's own knowledge. Three to nine year old children's understanding of two sketches was tested. In each sketch subjects observed how a protagonist put an object into a location x and then witnessed that in the absence of the protagonist the object was transferred from x to location y. Since this transfer came as a surprise they had to assume that the protagonist still believed that the object was in x. Subjects had to indicate where the protagonist will look for the object at his return. None of the 3–4-year old, 57% of 4–6-year old, and 86% of 6–9-year old children pointed correctly to location x in both sketches. Of the many cases where 4–6-year olds made an error they failed in only about 20% to remember the initial location correctly. As a test of the stability of children's representation of the protagonist's wrong belief the sketches continued with a statement about the protagonist's intention to either deceive an antagonist or truthfully inform a friend about the object's location. Independent of age, of those children who correctly thought that the protagonist would search in x, 85% of the time they also correctly thought that he would direct his antagonist to location y and his friend to location x. This shows that once children can represent a person's beliefs they can constrain their interpretation of this person's stated intentions to the person's beliefs. In a more story-like situation another group of children had to infer a deceptive plan from the depiction of a goal conflict between two story characters and one character's expedient utterance. At the age of 4–5 years children correctly judged this utterance as a lie only 28% of the time while 5–6-year olds did so 94% of the time. These results suggest that around the ages of 4 to 6 years the ability to represent the relationship between two or more person's epistemic states emerges and becomes firmly established.RésuméComprendre que ce que croit un tiers est erroné requiert une représentation explicitée de cette fausse croyance en relation avec son savoir propre.On a testé la compréhension de deux sketches par des enfants de 3 à 9 ans. Dans chacun des sketches les sujets observent un protagoniste placer un objet dans un lieu ‘x’, puis sont témoins du transfert de cet objet de ‘x’ en ‘y’ en l'absence du protagoniste. Ce transfert doit causer une surprise chez le protagoniste dont on assume qu'il croit que l'objet se trouve toujours en ‘x’. Les sujets doivent dire où le protagoniste va chercher l'objet. Aucun 3–4 ans n'indique correctement le lieu ‘x’, 57% des 4–6 ans et 86% des 6–9 ans le font. Parmi les nombreuses erreurs des 4–6 ans seules 20% sont attribuables à une incapacité de se souvenir du lieu ‘x’. Pour tester la stabilité de la représentation de la croyance erronée, on dit que le protagoniste a l'intention soit de tromper un adversaire soit d'informer un ami sur le lieu où se trouve l'objet. Indépendamment de leur âge, les enfants ayant donné des réponses correctes disent correctement dans 85% des cas que le protagoniste conduirait l'adversaire en ‘y’ et l'ami en ‘x’. Lorsque les enfants se représentent les croyances d'une personne, ils peuvent faire dépendre leurs interprétations des intentions exprimées par celles-ci à partir de ses croyances.Dans une situation de type histoire, un autre groupe d'enfants doit inférer un essai de tromperie à partir de la représentation d'un but conflictuel entre deux des personnages de l'énoncé tactique d'un des personnages. A 4–5 ans les enfants ne jugent correctement cet énoncé comme mensonger que dans 28% des cas alors qu'à 5–6 on a 94% de reponses correctes. Les résultats indiquent que vers 4–6 ans la capacité de représenter une relation entre les états épistémiques de deux personnes ou plus émerge et se confirme.
Article
Young children can express conceptual difficulties with the appearance-reality distinction in two different ways: (1) by incorrectly reporting appearance when asked to report reality (“phenomenism”); (2) by incorrectly reporting reality when asked to report appearance (“intellectual realism”). Although both phenomenism errors and intellectual realism errors have been observed in previous studies of young children's cognition, the two have not been seen as conceptually related and only the former errors have been taken as a symptom of difficulties with the appearance-reality distinction. Three experiments investigated 3- to 5-year-old children's ability to distinguish between and correctly identify real versus apparent object properties (color, size, and shape), object identities, object presence-absence, and action identities. Even the 3-year-olds appeared to have some ability to make correct appearance-reality discriminations and this ability increased with age. Errors were frequent, however, and almost all children who erred made both kinds. Phenomenism errors predominated on tasks where the appearance versus reality of the three object properties were in question; intellectual realism errors predominated on the other three types of tasks. Possible reasons for this curious error pattern were advanced. It was also suggested that young children's problems with the appearance-reality distinction may be partly due to a specific metacognitive limitation, namely, a difficulty in analyzing the nature and source of their own mental representations.