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The Image of the Mother's Eye: a Possible Link between Early Narcissistic Injury and Autism

McDowell, Maxson (2001) The Image of the Mother's Eye: a Possible Link between Early Narcissistic Injury and Autism. [Journal (Paginated)] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

At six weeks an infant makes eye-contact with the mother thereby stimulating her ‘containing’ behavior (she meets and regulates her infant’s needs). Eye-contact enables the subsequent development of intersubjectivity. To accomplish reliable eye-contact, the infant must acquire an image of the mother’s eyes. Once acquired, this image becomes associated with containment. The acquisition of this image is therefore a crucial very-early step in psychological development. Evidence for these assertions comes from (1) analyses of patients with early narcissistic injuries, (2) the evolutionary development of the appearance of the primate eye and of its signaling function, (3) experiments on infant visual preferences, and (4) observation of nursing mothers. Existing developmental models have not addressed the acquisition of the image of the eye. A variety of biological predispositions or injuries, together with congenital blindness and severe infant deprivation, all increase the risk of failure to acquire this image. The likely result is a pervasive cascade of developmental failure. Failure to acquire this image might, therefore, represent the primary deficit in autism. Like narcissism and neurosis, the primary deficit in autism may be psychological. This model suggests that autism may be investigated via the analyses of high-functioning patients with mild autistic symptoms.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:Autism, Narcissism, Image, Eye, Sense-of-self, Kohut, Stern
Subjects:Psychology > Clinical Psychology
ID Code:2225
Deposited By:McDowell, Doctor Maxson J.
Deposited On:26 May 2002
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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