Organizing Principles of Interactions in Infant Research and Adult Treatment
Beatrice Beebe, PhD
Clinical Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
College of Physicians and Surgeons
337th Scientific Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York
Monday, February 23, 2009
Einhorn Auditorium, Lenox Hill Hospital, 131 East 76th Street, NYC
This presentation will explore a view of face-to-face interactive process that informs both mother-infant communication and adult treatment. Three bodies of information will be brought together. First, a dyadic systems view of face-to-face communication will set the stage for an understanding of nonverbal communication across the lifespan. This view construes the dyadic system to be the basic unit of interest. In this view communication operates through simultaneous processes of self-and-interactive regulation, generating “organizing principles of interaction,” such as facial mirroring; disruption and repair; the coordination of vocal rhythms, particularly the turn exchange; spatial approach-avoid patterns, such as chase and dodge; and distress regulation. This theory integrates interactions which operate implicitly, out of conscious awareness, as well as those which operate explicitly through verbal narrative. We focus on the former, articulating the nonverbal dimensions of the co-construction of dialogue. Organizing principles of interaction in the implicit mode generate patterns of expectation, procedurally-organized action sequences. In infancy these procedural expectancies define infant representations. In adult treatment these procedural expectancies are a potent mode of therapeutic action, out of awareness. Second, this dyadic systems view will be illustrated through research on mother-infant communication and its disturbances. Films and frame-by-frame analyses will illustrate remarkable patterns of self-and interactive regulation disturbances at four months. Third, this dyadic systems view will be used to explore processes of nonverbal communication in adult treatment through a new project, “Videotaping the Analyst’s Face.” The analyst’s own nonverbal communication is a pivotal feature of adult treatment. An integrated verbal and nonverbal theory of interactive process will enhance our understanding of therapeutic action in psychoanalysis.
1. To become familiar with ways that mother-infant interactions are organized, which provide “organizing principles” of nonverbal face-to-face communication, such as facial mirroring; disruption and repair; the coordination of vocal rhythms, particularly the turn exchange; spatial approach-avoid patterns, such as chase and dodge; and distress regulation.
2. To obtain an understanding of how organizing principles of mother-infant communication may inform therapist-patient communication.
3. To use patterns of nonverbal communication in adult treatment to enrich an understanding of therapeutic action.