John Jolliffe Counselling and Psychotherapy

Details of

early mother-infant communication – focusing on emotional development and anxiety regulation.

*Details to be added throughout 2018

My early draft of the first chapter.

I'm starting off in a general way – and it will progress into more and more detail – as it goes along chapter by chapter.


For this mother-infant developmental process – I am moving into the realm of modern attachment – ‘attachment regulation’ as it were.

We are talking now – about the interaction that takes place between mother and infant – taking place before birth – at a non-conscious level. This involves a neurobiological model of attachment. The central or main focus at this time – is the development of the right brain. In this we are understanding the development and capacity for regulatory processes – which is facilitated in the infant in these very early stages by the interaction with the mother. As stated earlier – these processes are taking place outside of normal consciousness. They are central – to the early development and later emotional aspects beginning to form in the infant – and the capacity to regulate conflicts in these areas – which could be described as managing and resolving stressful situations. Curiously – these non-conscious interactive processes – in different ways – continue to take place between adults – especially those in close relationships. But that is another field altogether for this piece of writing – and one particularly useful to understand in terms of some forms of contemporary psychoanalysis (which I myself adopted in regards to in-depth therapy processes when I used to practice as an analyst – utilising these understandings in different ways – regarding unconscious interactive communications). Roughly speaking – in regard to infants – the first year of life is of very great importance for the development of these regulative capacities. Emotional well-being in later life is dependent to some extent on these early stages – some would say very much so. To much extent this is in tune with the understandings put forward by Donald Winnicott producing books in the 1940s – and particularly in the 60s – proffering profound insights into mother-infant development. Modern research using attachment as its model – goes into this – and expands greatly upon it – utilising modern methods of research and assessment, which includes the use of various neuroimaging technologies – particularly relevant in tracing interactive developmental processes.

*Dysregulation – however it may have come about – could be seen as one of the main factors underlying later pathological developments.

The Development of Attunement – during pregnancy

and the importance of safe and supportive conditions.

As early as the 1940s – and in more detail in the 60s – researchers in the field – had been putting forward – that during the period of pregnancy – an attunement (a description not in common usage at that time) starts to develop between mother and infant – that can continue to develop till it is almost sensed as telepathic under ideal circumstances – such is the subtleness of the communication – though it is really that of the sensing of special connection – picking up as it were unconsciously on the infant's condition – and this has everything to do with regulation (see above). And of course modern attachment with its methods of assessing these matters – along with its use of sophisticated technology – in various ways has been able to attest to this and to see further into these processes. Attachment Theory itself (deriving much from these early ideas) – in later years draws our attention to much more detail – regarding the conditions that might facilitate and those that might hamper or undermine this development. And with this we are talking about the context of the environment in which the pregnant mother is living. Accordingly a supportive and safe environment – will facilitate much of this natural process – that is – providing the conditions for it to take place from its own biological potentials (and of course also accordingly as to how harmonious the mother is within herself at that stage of life during the time of pregnancy) but getting back to the environmental conditions and situational conditions that the mother is living in – unsatisfactory conditions can hinder this – unsafe conditions can undermine it – and accordingly to how severe – can be very disruptive to this natural process. Apart from disrupting the developing attunement between mother and fetus – the fetus itself – picks up in its own way – on disruptive environmental issues.

All of this – will affect the newborn infants regulation development.

up-and-coming chapters

'The Provision of Attachment for the New-born Infant'

'Unconscious communication – who initiates what – where does power lie'

(the following is getting into the area of what I see as my original work)

what is the meaning and 'nature of power' in these situations – understanding 'the centres of gravity'. A relationship (and also elements of interfacing) between Attachment Theory and the understandings and position of Melanie Klein.

Similar principles – though differently 'operated' and made sense of – lie in the social and political spectrums as well.

The Provision of Attachment for the New-born Infant

Now the following may appear obvious to some – maybe not so obvious to some very young mothers or fathers – but nevertheless – I think it needs to be written out.

…to be continued towards the end of February 2018.

© John Jolliffe – 2018


This is just an ongoing developing draft at the moment – I will have had very many sources for it by the time I have finished. These I will reference in a general way – when the drafts are completed. Some of it will be my own original ideas.

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