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Early mother-child early interactions in the context of severe emotional neglect : transdisciplinary approach of synchrony and maternal insighfulness


KeywordsTriple Keywords
Individuation (Philosophy)
Individuals (Philosophy)
Particulars (Philosophy)
Context (Linguistics)
Grammar, Comparative and general--Context
Situation (Linguistics)
Self (Philosophy)


Studying early interaction is complex but essential for understanding psychopathology during infancy. Emotional Neglect is a common but insidious form of child maltreatment. It refers to parental failure to give children an emotional environment that allows adequate psychological, cognitive and physical development. We explore mother-infant interaction in these situations following a transdisciplinary approach which consider Synchrony and Insightfulness. Synchrony is a dynamic and reciprocal adaptation of the temporal structure of behaviour and shared affect between interactive partners. It is regarded as a social signal per se. Insightfulness involves the parents' ability to see things from the child point of view and to empathically think about and consider the motives underlying their childrens' behaviour. The aims of this research are (A) to report a novel method to assess features of interactive behavioral dynamics and (B) to assess/underline the impact of Insighfulness, in particular its dynamics, on interactive behavioral dynamics in case/situations of severe emotional neglect. Mothers and children aged from 13 to 38 months (10 in situation of severe emotional neglect and 10 controls) are video recorded during free play. Features of social signal extract by our automatic computational method are compared to qualitative interaction assessment by using the Coding Interactive Behaviour in its French version (Feldman et Keren 1998; Viaux 2014). Secondly, 14 mothers (7 in situation of emotional neglect and 7 without interaction problem) are interviewed during a video-feedback session by using the Insightfulness Assessment (Oppenheim, Koren-Karie, 2001) to assess Insightfulness. An additional qualitative verbatim analysis was performed to explore intrapsychic dynamics. Self-administered questionnaires (BITSEA and Care Support) are proposed to mothers. Results show that individual and synchrony motion features perfectly correlates CIB composite scores trough maternal sensitivity, intrusivity and dyadic reciprocity. Furthermore, pathological mothers are mostly categorised as non-Insighful. Interviews are characterized by poor representations and a lack of elaboration. Intrapsychic dynamics is partly associated with interactive behavioral dynamics. We conclude that computational method might be promising for future studies. It opens an observation window to understand early interactions by changing the time scale. Moreover, interview with a video support seems to underpin maternal elaboration and enhance an intrapsychic movement.

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