Attunement

This is drawn verbatim from the following article:

“Thinking Differently: Principles of Process in Living Systems and the Specificity of Being Known”

Louis W. Sander, M.D.

Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(1):11–42 © 2002 The Analytic Press, Inc.

“The scene was drawn from some three minutes of movie film taken of our research team out on the lawn during a home visit with one of our new neonatal subjects on the eighth postdelivery day. (In those days [1958], that was three days after mother and new baby had returned from the hospital.) One of the team was standing on the lawn talking with the father. Mother was sitting nearby holding her new baby and talking with the leader of the team. The baby became increasingly fussy and mother tried to quiet her but was unsuccessful. Mother became a bit embarrassed in the presence of the leader and decided it was time to bring out refreshments. So she gave the baby to the father, who was standing talking nearby, and went into the house. The next two or three minutes of film show the father standing on the lawn, holding the baby in his left arm, continuing to talk to the researcher, during which time the baby simply fell asleep and the two went on talking. Run at normal film speed of 30 frames per second, this is all one sees.

“Over the same few minutes, now run frame-by-frame, one sees the father glance down momentarily at the baby’s face. Strangely enough, in the same frames, the infant looks up at the father’s face. Then the infant’s left arm, which had been hanging down over the father’s left arm, begins to move upward. Miraculously, in the same frame, the father’s right arm, which had been hanging down at his right side, begins to move upward. Frame by frame by frame, the baby’s hand and the father’s hand move upward simultaneously. Finally, just as they meet over the baby’s tummy, the baby’s left hand grasps the little finger of the father’s right hand. At that moment, the infant’s eyes close and she falls asleep, while father continues talking, apparently totally unaware of the little miracle of specificity in time, place, and movement that had taken place in his arms.

“How do we account for such specificity of connection between father and baby? Was there a “representation” of the father’s little finger in the newborn’s brain? Did she know “where” it was, to grasp it? As father’s hand came over the infant’s body, father extended his little finger, separating it from his other fingers; otherwise the baby could not have grasped it. How did he know the baby wished to grasp it? How could the movements of father and baby fit so precisely in time and in place, eight days after the baby had been born? Are we looking at some principle of wholeness,—that is, building on an underlying principle of specificity in time, place, and movement that joins directionalities between component subsystems—a joining that is necessary to construct coherent wholeness in a “system” that can be said to “live”?”

About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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