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Int J Psychoanal. 2012 Jun;93(3):631-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-8315.2012.00577.x. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Has infantile sexuality anything to do with infants?

Author information

  • Karolinska Institutet, Department of Women's and Children's Health, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden. bjorn.salomonsson@ki.se

Erratum in

  • Int J Psychoanal. 2012 Jun;93(3):i-ii.


Classical psychoanalytic theory draws many concepts from mental processes that are assumed to arise in the infant and influence the adult mind. Still, psychoanalytic practice with mothers and infants has been integrated but little within general psychoanalytic theory. One reason is that only few analysts have utilized such practice to further theory. Another reason is that infant therapists tend to abandon classical psychoanalytic concepts in favour of attachment concepts. As a result the concept of infantile sexuality, so central to classical theory, plays an unobtrusive role in clinical discussions on infant therapy. The author argues that infantile sexuality plays an important role in many mother-infant disturbances. To function as a clinical concept, it needs to be delineated from attachment and be understood in the context of mother-infant interaction. Two examples are provided; one where the analyst's infantile sexuality emerged in a comment to the infant. Another is a case of breast-feeding problems with a little boy fretting at the breast. This is interpreted as reflecting the mother's infantile sexual conflicts as well as the boy's emerging internalization of them. Thus, to conceptualize such disorders we need to take into account the infantile sexuality in both mother and baby.

Copyright © 2012 Institute of Psychoanalysis.

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