chapter  5
21 Pages

Bipolar Shape Flow

WithJanet Kestenberg Amighi, Susan Loman, K. Mark Sossin

This chapter looks at the movement patterns, and their respective psychological meanings, in bipolar shape flow. Dr. Judith Kestenberg distinguished bipolar shape flow from unipolar shape flow to make psychological interpretations more meaningful. Bipolar shape flow refers specifically to symmetrical expansions and contractions. Bipolar growing and shrinking are closely related to the infant's global feelings of comfort and discomfort in the environment. Bipolar widening can also occur in the face, hands, pelvis, and toes. Separation, increasingly initiated by the infant in the biting phase, is accomplished by narrowing bipolarly with bound flow. Bipolar lengthening can be seen in the process of inhalation: the rib cage rises upward toward the head while the diaphragm moves downward into the abdominal cavity. Bipolar lengthening gives structure to feelings of comfort, elation, pride, and capability. Low intensity matched with bipolar lengthening is conducive to feelings of pride, easy going humour, and optimism in free flow and mild concern in bound flow.