Regulation of Exchange in the Infant Caretaker System: A Viewpoint on the Ontogeny of “Structures”

  • Louis W. Sander
Part of the The Downstate Series of Research in Psychiatry and Psychology book series (DSRPP, volume 1)


In beginning a symposium with the title “Communicative Structures and Psychic Structures,” there is a certain logic in starting with the immediate postnatal period. This is a time quite before the age at which one begins to think of communication as yet existing between the infant and the people around him, and certainly before one thinks of the infant in terms of a psychic structure. However, in taking an ontogenetic approach to the subject, we are asking whether or not communicative processes may be determined in some lawful way by the earliest features of interpersonal transactions or exchanges, the precommunicative structures, such as those which characterize exchanges between neonate and caretaker. It is this early period, in particular the first two weeks to two months of life, which our group has investigated. We have been interested in what can be said about these early events which might relate to the notion of “structure” in the arrangement of those later behaviors we label as communication. Even further, can anything sensible be suggested that might possibly contribute bridging links between early events and “psychic structures?” Whatever they might be, we will probably have to be content with such bridges as ways of thinking about the problem rather than as concrete answers.


Child Psychiatry Infant State Temporal Organization Natural Mother Quiet Sleep 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis W. Sander
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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