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December 26, 1959


Author Affiliations

New York

Child Psychiatry Fellow, Child Psychiatry Division, Department of Psychiatry (Dr. Stein), Chief Pediatric Resident. Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Rausen), and Attending Psychiatrist-in-Charge, Child Psychiatry Division, Department of Psychiatry (Dr. Blau), the Mount Sinai Hospital.

JAMA. 1959;171(17):2309-2312. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73010350003007a

Insufficient attention is given to the observation that infants can have psychiatric disorders. The infant is emotionally responsive and can react within the limits of his expressive capabilities with anxiety. From birth, disturbed behavior may occur as a somatic disorder, arrest of motor and behavioral maturation, and regression. Since the range of behavior in an infant is limited as compared to older children and adults, psychiatric disturbances in infancy have a greater tendency to be expressed as somatic complaints. Moreover, the etiology and management are intimately related to the mother. For a long time, the infant continues to be helpless and dependent on his mother and he is very much a unit with her, reflecting her emotional reactions and disturbances. An emotionally stable mother serves her infant's needs better than does an emotionally disturbed mother. Psychiatric treatment of an infant must involve the mother as an integral part of the