Child Development: Infancy and Early Childhood
Wendy Olesker, Ph.D.
November 1, 2017 - January 3, 2018
8:40 - 10:00 PM
The core of this course lies in the classical psychoanalytic conceptualization of the mind of the infant and young child. During the past forty years or so new ideas have emerged that constitute a change in perspective from the traditional point of view about the mind of the developing child. What is the nature of these ideas, and how do we understand them in terms of the classical psychoanalytic understanding of mental functioning and the quality of the infantile experiences?
Accordingly, we will start with an introduction to the traditional psychoanalytic conceptualization of the developing mind of the child with reference to the ideas of Freud, Anna Freud, and Spitz. Mahler’s developmental account of separation-individuation will provide a clinical backdrop for exploring ideas about aggression, defenses, the parent-child relationship, intrapsychic conflict, identification and gender identity.
We will then show how current theories of the nature of the child’s mind have evolved from this base starting with a shift to an object relations focus primarily within the British school stemming originally from the work of Klein (followed by Bion, Fairbairn, Guntrip, Winnicott). But it was Bowlby who subsequently took the object relations line of development even further by insisting on a research-based psychoanalytic theory with an ethological perspective on mental function. We will take several sessions to study Attachment Theory and the clinical practices that have evolved from it.
The interest in research attracted the academic world and within a few decades developmental psychologists provided a vast array of experimental studies that added a further perspective to the conceptualization of the mind of the infant and young child. We will touch upon some of these studies citing the work of Beebe, Stern, Tronick by focusing on studies of mother-child interaction and the shift in thinking that led to a two-person intersubjectivity clinical approach. A series of questions will be asked about the impact of these studies on clinical understanding and practice.
To complete this course we will use clinical material to discuss the developmental passage to the oedipal phase and point out the threads of continuity between early infantile disturbances and later adult psychopathology.
No class held 11/22, 12/27
Syllabus 2017 -2018
Not yet posted.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. describe the classical psychoanalytic understanding of the structure and psychic development of the mind of the infant and young child.
2. explain the clinical and research implications of the different perspectives that have evolved regarding the mind of the infant and young child.
3. examine the clinical implications and differences between these viewpoints.
4. examine the links between early development and later adult pathology.
Each student's participation in class discussion and his or her demonstration of understanding of the course objectives and reading material is assessed in a written evaluation by the instructor(s).