Prevention, infant therapy, and the treatment of adults: 2. Mutual holding and holding-oneself-up

Int J Psychoanal Psychother. 1977;6:369-96.


This is the second paper in a series of papers concerned with the relevance of infant therapy to the treatment of adults. The detailed presentation of a case of infant therapy illustrates our thesis that (1) early failures in mutual holding lead to a distortion of the body image, to an insufficient development of trust and empathy, and to a difficulty in holding-oneself-up and becoming self-reliant; (2) movement retraining of mother and infant is a method of choice to prevent the sequelae of holding failures; (3) insight gained from infant-therapy through movement retraining helps us understand adult patients whose body attitudes reveal their attempts to hold themselves up by putting strain on their neck, back, or shoulders; (4) the analysis of the defensive use of certain parts of the body for self-support reveals the underlying fear of falling, collapsing or falling apart.

MeSH terms

  • Child Development
  • Child Rearing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychoanalytic Theory*