Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

personalityTHE  STAGES OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT, a synthesis by Margaret Mahler of the work of Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn and D.V. Winnicott.


1. AUTISTIC STAGE (birth to 2 months). The infant is in a sleep-like state of psychological isolation similar to being in the womb. This is a time of total union where the baby can't tell the difference between himself and his mother. In the infant's mind, the mother in fact is just an extension of the infant. The autistic stage is a close system, and all emotional energy remains referenced to the baby's own body, not directed outward to external objects.

2. SYMBIOSIS ( 2 to 6 months). Now, a dim awareness of an "other" begins to emerge. This other is experienced as some "thing" that satisfies hunger, thirst, and other discomforts. The relationship is as if the other exists only to serve the baby's needs. There is still no distinction made between "I" and "You". We are one in the same.

3. HATCHING (6 to 10 months). At this point, the infant's world begins to open up a little bit and expand. What is "hatching" is a sense of difference between the infant and the objects in the world around him or her. However, this can be a scary thing, and the comfort of symbiosis is not long forgotten. As infants begin to open up to the big, bad world, they often require something to take with them on their jurney. This comforting "thing" is called a "transitional object". Remember Linus from "Peanuts"? He took his blanket, his transitional object, everywhere; it conforted him. Now, Linus seemed a little older than 10 months, so did he have some issues or what?  Infants also develop stranger anxiety during hatching. "Stranger anxiety" is where infants become weary and sometimes even fearful of people they've never seen or met before.

4. PRACTICING (10 to 16 months). This stage is where little Johnny gets carried away with his independence. Children are fully aware of their separatness, and they try out their independence. Some psychologists think that kids go through this stage again when they hit their teens. Ever hear a child at this age use the word "no"?  Repeated use of "no" is a great example of "practicing " independence. So the next time some bratty 15-month- old kid yells "No" at you, just be patient. They'll soon realise that they're in this big scary world all by themselves...

5. RAPPROCHEMENT (16 to 24 months). Just when Junior thinks he's running the show, something starts to happen to his confidence - he realizes he's all alone. That can be pretty scary for anyone, let alone for 1 1/2-year-old child. The solution? Re-engage with mommy! This is like running back home after not being able to make rent in your first apartment, although I'm not sure how embarrassed the 20-month-old is.

6. OBJECT CONSTANCY (24 to 36 months). After a child has returned home (so to speak), he is eventually able to develop a strong enough sense of self and security to go out on his psychological own again. This stable sense of self is developed in part by the child realizing that some consistency exists between his fluctuating moods and his mental states. It may sound kind of strange to think that just because there's a change in mood, a pre-object constancy child would experience a less stable sense of himself, but he does. Before this stage, with each passing mood and though, children experience uncertainty, about their identity. But  as this stage begins, they develop a more sure sense of themselves. 

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