Babies depend on others for survival – not only for physical needs, but relationship needs too – Rutter notes that orphanage raised children where only physical care was given still ‘failed to thrive’.
They are born tuned into other humans (Reddy at al)
They desire ‘relatedness’ (Hobson)
If we accept this, then ‘attachments’ between babies & caregivers are a basic start point for psychological development.
Biological mothers are not always the primary caregivers – cultural differences as to who does this. But the common feature is that a baby typically has one or a small number of caring relationships that are ‘dyadic’ (two-person.)
Psychoanalytic theory provides many of the roots for developmental psychologist’s research and theories. However, there is a tension between the two disciplines, as there are fundamental differences on what counts as evidence. Psychologists interested in language, personality, cognition & emotion have suggested that the subjective interpretation of these phenomena applied by those working in the psychoanalytical tradition are inadmissible or at best inadequate. Yet the two approaches continue to influence each other.
Important to us, but difficult to describe or understand how they operate and develop. Can be examined as moment by moment interchanges; images of what each person in a relationship has about each other; language between people. Important factors include:
- Duration – they are ongoing
- Rewards ; Intimacy
- Commitment ; Conversation
- Meshing ; Empathy
- Concern ; Warmth
- Mutual knowledge
They depend on each having a mental representation or model of the other party. Such models include what others say and do, but also our own thoughts/feelings about them. The idea of emotions in us being experienced as coming from someone else is the psychoanalytic concept of projection.
The development of a relationship with an infant brings the greatest rewards – e.g. recognition, smiles, significance of dependence etc.
Winnicott – babies only exist as part of a relationship (you describe a baby + someone.) No uniqueness about a biological mother – only importance is that care is given by someone consistently and in an ongoing manner.
Use of the word ‘mother’ is problematic – much theory and research is based more or less on care being given by the biological mother, which produces data based on such an image.
Norman – notes that babies are portrayed as ‘pure cognitive systems’ and much research attempts to minimise the involvement of emotions [is this a problem for such research as it is not ‘normal’?]
Winnicott – introduces the idea of a ‘good enough’ rather than ‘perfect’ mother – a more attainable goal where caring is sufficient for a baby’s needs.
How an infant’s and adult’s behaviours ‘fit in’ with each other. Can see meshing in the context of a conversation – turn taking…