Home Sociology Infant Observation: Creating Transformative Relationships
Winnicott's view of the dangers of too-good mothering and of the benefits of conflict, anger, and hate in infant development are needed to balance the present emphasis in much clinical thinking on the unalloyed benefits of sensitive and responsive maternal care. Winnicott did, of course, recommend complete maternal adaptation to infant needs at the start. His clinical intuition that this was optimal has been supported by the experimental work of Sander (1977) who has shown how consistent, sensitive experiences of mutual regulation with mothers, during the first three months, facilitate the infant's capacity for self-regulation. From then on the mother- infant couple needs to balance the infant's experiences between satisfaction and frustration and between merger and separation. It is experiences of frustration and conflict in concert with their successful repair and resolution which are optimal for development.
Finally, more knowledge is needed of the variety of perplexing ways in which responsive and empathic parents may contribute to their children's pathology. Attention is also needed to the challenging technical problems arising in the therapy of children who have already received too much sensitive attention and have been too well understood.
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