Mahler M. S. (1972). On the first three subphases of the separation-individuation process. The International journal of psycho-analysis, 53 ( Pt 3), 333–338.
Freud—two pillars of psychoanalytic metapsychology. The first is that, at the time of his biological birth, the human being is brought into the world in an immature state. (This is due to the fact that the over-development of his CNS requires a large cranial cage.) Hence he is at first absolutely, and remains later on—even 'unto the grave'—relatively dependent on a mother.I have based this presentation upon two thoughts of
The second Freudian tenet, which is probably a result of the first, is his emphasis that object relationship—i.e. one person's endowing another with object libido—is the most reliable single factor by which we are able to determine the level of mental health on the one hand and, on the other, the extent of the therapeutic potential.
Object relationship develops on the basis of, and pari passu with, differentiation from the normal mother.infant dual unity, which Therese Benedek (1949) and I, independently of each other, have designated as the normal phase of human symbiosis(Mahler & Gosliner, 1955).
我和特丽莎.贝内德克(Therese Benedek)不约而同的提出了“人类共生阶段”这个说法（Mahler & Gosliner, 1955），我认为客体关系是是从母婴共生中分化出来的。
'Growing up' entails a gradual growing away from the normal state of human symbiosis, of 'one-ness' with the mother. This process is much slower in the emotional and psychic area than in the physical one. The transition from lap-babyhood to toddler-hood goes through gradual steps of a separation-individuation process, greatly facilitated on the one hand by the autonomous development of the ego and, on the other hand, by identificatory mechanisms of different sorts. This growing away process is—as Zetzel, Winnicott and also Sandler & Joffe indicate in their work—a lifelong mourning process. Inherent in every new step of independent functioning is a minimal threat of object loss.
“成长”意味着个体逐渐摆脱与母亲“融合”的共生状态。这个过程，就情感和心理意义上，比生理意义上要缓慢得多。一个孩子从会坐到会走之间，经历了一个渐近的分离个体化过程，这个过程一方面被自我的自主功能发展所推动，另一方面是被不同的识别机制所推动。正如Zetzel，温尼科特以及Sandler & Joffe在他们的著作里指出的，而在独立/成长的道路上个体每往前迈一步，都会产生一个比较小的客体丧失威胁，成长是一个终身的哀悼过程。
Following my work with a few psychotic latency children, whom I tried to help with the traditional child analytic method in Vienna back in the 1930s—and on the basis of engrams left in my mind as a paediatrician and head of a well-baby clinic, after having studied tics and early infantile psychosis from the early 1940s on—I decided to look more closely at the fountainhead—to examine the phenomena that those two Freudian thoughts I mentioned earlier entail. I decided to study the earliest average mother.infant and mother.toddler interaction in situ.
The biological birth of the human infant and the psychological birth of the individual are not coincident in time. The former is a dramatic and readily observable, well-circumscribed event; the latter, a slowly unfolding intrapsychic process.
For the more or less normal adult, the experience of being both fully 'in' and at the same time basically separate from the 'world out there' is among the givens of life that are taken for granted. Consciousness of self and absorption without awareness of self are the two polarities between which we move, with varying ease and with varying degrees of alternation or simultaneity. This too is the result of a slowly unfolding process. In particular, this development takes place in relation to (a) one's own body, and (b) the principal representative of the world, as the infant experiences it, namely the primary love object. As is the case with any intrapsychic process, this one reverberates throughout the life cycle. It is never finished; it can always become reactivated; new phases of the life cycle witness new derivatives of the earliest process still at work (cf. Erikson, 1968). However, the principal psychological achievements in this process take place, as we see it, in the period from about the fourth or fifth to the 30th or 36th months of age, a period that we refer to—at Dr Annemarie Weil's helpful suggestion (personal communication)—as the separation-individuation phase.
对于正常的成年人来说，完全“融入”“外部世界”，同时保有“世界”与自己是分开的体验，被视为生命理所当然的馈赠之一。“沉浸在自我感受中“与“忘我的专注”以共存或交替的方式存在于我们身上，伴随着程度的变化。这也是个人心理逐渐发展的结果。特别是，这种发展过程发生在(a)自己的身上和(b)自己关注的人上，比如婴儿主要关注对象是母亲。与任何心理过程一样，这种交互影响贯穿 “我们”一生。它永远不会结束，它总是可以重新激活，生命的每个新阶段都会见证了这个过程的重复（参见埃里克森，1968）。然而，正如我们所见，这个过程的主要模式主要形成在孩子4、5个月到2岁半至三岁之间，在安妮玛丽·威尔医生（Annemarie Weil）的建设性提议下，我们将这个阶段称为分离个体化。
In the course of our rather unsystematic naturalistic pilot study, we could not help but take note of certain clusters of variables at certain crossroads of the individuation process, insofar as they repeated themselves. This strongly suggested to us that it would be to our advantage to subdivide the data that we were collecting on the intrapsychic separation and individuation process, in accordance with the repeatedly observable, behavioural and other surface referents of that process. Our subdivision was into four subphases: differentiation, practising, rapproachement, and 'on the way to libidinal object constancy'. (The timing of these subphases is still inaccurate, and we are still working on the timetable as we go along with the processing of our data.)
I should also mention in passing that I have described an objectless phase: the phase of normal autism, and the phase corresponding to Anna Freud's 'need-satisfying' and Spitz's 'pre-object' phase—which I like to call the symbiotic phase. Both these precede the first subphase of separation-individuation—that of differentiation.
At about four to five months of age, at the peak of symbiosis, the behavioural phenomena seem to indicate the beginning of the first subphase of separation-individuation—called differentiation. It is synonymous in our metaphorical language with 'hatching from the mother.infant symbiotic common orbit'. During the symbiotic months, through that activity of the pre-ego, which Spitz has described as coenaesthetic receptivity, the young infant has familiarized himself with the mothering half of his symbiotic self, indicated by the unspecific, social smile. This smile gradually becomes the specific (preferential) smiling response to the mother, which is the supreme sign that a specific bond between the infant and his mother has been established.
When inner pleasure, due to safe anchorage within the symbiotic orbit—which is mainly entero-proprioceptive and contact perceptual—continues, and pleasure in the maturationally increasing outer sensory perception stimulates outward-directed attention cathexis, these two forms of attention cathexis can oscillate freely (Spiegel, 1959); (Rose, 1964). The result is an optimal symbiotic state, out of which smooth differentiation—and expansion beyond the symbiotic orbit—can take place. This 'hatching' process is, I believe, a gradual ontogenetic evolution of the sensorium—the perceptual-conscious system—which leads to the infanttoddler's having a more permanently alert sensorium, whenever he is awake (cf. also Wolff, 1959).
In other words, the infant's attention—which during the first months of symbiosis was in large part inwardly directed, or focused in a coenaesthetic and somewhat vague way within the symbiotic orbit—gradually gains a considerable accretion through the coming into being of a perceptual activity that is outwardly directed during the child's increasing periods of wakefulness. This is a change of degree rather than of kind, for during the symbiotic stage the child has certainly been highly attentive to the mothering figure. But gradually that attention is combined with a growing store of memories of mother's comings and goings, of 'good' and 'bad' experiences; the latter were altogether unrelievable by the self, but were predictably relieved by mother's ministrations.
Six to seven months is the peak of the child's hair-pulling, face-patting, manual, tactile and visual exploration of the mother's mouth, nose, face, as well as the covered (clad) and unclad feel of parts of the mother's body; and furthermore the discovery of a brooch, eyeglasses or a pendant attached to the mother. There may be engagement in peek-a-boo games in which the infant still plays a passive role. This later develops into the cognitive function of checking the unfamiliar against the already familiar—a process that Sylvia Brody termed 'customs inspection'.
It is during the first subphase of separation-individuation that all normal infants achieve their first tentative steps of breaking away, in a bodily sense, from their hitherto completely passive lap-babyhood—the stage of dual unity with the mother. They stem themselves with arms and legs against the holding mother, as if to have a better look at her as well as at the surroundings. One was able to see their individually different inclinations and patterns, as well as the general characteristics of the stage of differentiation itself. They all like to venture and stay just a bit away from the enveloping arms of the mother; if they are motorically able to slide down from mother's lap, they tend to remain or to crawl back as near as possible and play at the mother's feet.
Once the infant has become sufficiently individuated to recognize the mother, visually and tactilely, he then turns, with greater or less wonderment and apprehension (commonly called 'stranger reaction'), to a prolonged visual and tactile exploration and study of the faces of others, from afar or at close range. He appears to be comparing and checking the features —appearance, feel, contours and texture—of the stranger's face with his mother's face, as well as with whatever inner image he may have of her. He also seems to check back to her face in relation to other interesting new experiences.
In children for whom the symbiotic phase has been optimal and 'confident expectation' has prevailed (Benedek, 1938), curiosity and wonderment are the predominant elements of their inspection of strangers. By contrast, among children whose basic trust has been less than optimal, an abrupt change to acute stranger anxiety may make its appearance; or there may be a prolonged period of mild stranger reaction, which transiently interferes with pleasurable inspective behaviour. This phenomenon and the factors underlying its variations constitute, we believe, an important aspect of and clue to our evaluation of the libidinal object, of socialization, and of the first step towards emotional object constancy.