Early emotional development and the developmental matrix
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Arch Psych Psych 2010;12(1):15–23
The author presents an outline of early emotional development, integrating psychoanalytic theory with studies based on observation. The main conclusions are as follows: (a) Infants are not mere recipients of maternal care; they play an active role in eliciting a caregiver's parenting response and hence participate in shaping their own environment. (b) It is a mistake to consider infants as merely immature, undifferentiated organisms. Infants come to the world well equipped for their role, and their very immaturity is an asset facilitating their development. (c) There is considerable variability in the innate endowment of infants, a variability that can have profound effect on the relationship with the caregivers and on future development. (d) The infant develops in several dimensions simultaneously: perceptual, cognitive, motor, emotional and social. These developmental lines are not merely contemporaneous and parallel; they connect intimately, creating a matrix of reciprocal influences.