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  1. Doris K. Silverman

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0968

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Silverman, D. K. 2010. Symbiosis. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. New York City

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


As Freud reflected on children's developing sense of self, their dealings with nonpleasurable bodily experiences, and their growing recognition of reality, he understood these progressive changes as occurring gradually. He considered infants as initially undifferentiated, merged with their mothers, and slowly advancing toward differentiation. Freud was describing the infant's first experiences of symbiosis based on the then-limited information about infants' developmental capacities. Freud's ideas took hold in the psychoanalytic literature, and many theoreticians continue to support the view of infants' merger and fusion feelings. However, current research on infants' early experiences suggests the need to retire the concept of early-stage symbiosis in infancy.


  • infantile symbiosis;
  • attachment system;
  • intentionality