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J Physiol Paris. 2011 Dec;105(4-6):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2011.07.005. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Infant rhythms versus parental time: promoting parent-infant synchrony.

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Hospital Bichat Claude Bernard, APHP, University Paris 7, Paris, France.


Traditional psychoanalytic theories of early development have been put into question by developmental psychology, and particularly by attachment theory. Psychopathology appears to be more linked to interpersonal relationship problems rather than to intra-psychic conflict, as hypothesized in Freudian drive theory. Establishing synchrony between parent and infant is probably one of the major tasks of the first year of life. Attachment theory appears to be an effective paradigm to understand how caregiver responses to stressful infant situations give way to different regulatory strategies, which impact on the effectiveness of the stress buffer systems and its physiological impact on emotion and stress regulation. This paper underlines the importance of synchronization between infant and caregiver; it highlights the key concept of attachment disorganization and of its relationship with sustained social withdrawal as a defence mechanism and an alarm signal when synchronization fails, and underlines the importance of early interventions promoting parent-infant synchrony.

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