14 Pages

Continuities from infancy to adulthood

The baby is out of the bathwater 1
WithSeligman Stephen

Important methodological issues arise in building models of the infant’s mind and theories about how early experience leads to later personality: we are confident that what happens in infancy has substantial effect in determining adult experience, but how? Since so much is different between the first few years and later life, what is it that accounts for the continuity? What is it that “stays the same,” what has been transformed, and what is novel, as people move through the life cycle? How does the fundamentally dyadic life situation of the baby find its way into the more individual, “internal” patterns and “structures” of later life? Our responses to these questions have basic implications for clinical practice, since they shape our thinking about the relationship between the patient’s history and current situation, and often of the repetitive dimensions of the ­transference–countertransference. They fundamentally affect what we do and say, almost continuously.