EARLY COMMUNICATION PROCESSES: WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE DEAF
MESHOVER, PHYLLIS I.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis is a clinical and theoretical exploration of communication processes in early developmental based on a set of clinical experiences with three to five year old profoundly deaf children. It attempts to explore the concept of "communication" first in relation to the early development of the deaf child and then with regard to normal development.;A phase of initial observations of deaf children in their preschool setting led (1) to the view that the major deficit was not the deafness per se, but rather the deficit in communication that was the result of the deafness, and (2) to the possibility of deviations and distortions in early stages of object relations development in the deaf child as a result of the communication deficit. It was hypothesized that the capacity to communicate was part and parcel of early object relations development and had to be understood in that context; conversely, early object relations development would be affected by the communications problems posed.;This hypothesis was explored through a year long clinical project, with three groups of five children each from each age level in the pre-school (3, 4, and 5). Each group met twice a week for 45 minutes throughout one school year; each had two psychologist-leaders and one observer, all of whom recorded notes for each session.;The clinical project had a dual focus: therapeutic and observational. Its therapeutic aim was to facilitate communication. Its observational aim was to provide the opportunity to study communication processes and early object relations processes in early development.;With regard to therapeutic change, there was a clear progression from a "chaotic" beginning stage in which the promise of a gratifying object relationship released unmet needs, to a stage in which subphase patterns of the separation-individuation process emerged and coalesced and were worked through in a communication context, to a stage of improved communication. Therapeutic gain appeared to be directly related to the emergence of object relations patterns. With regard to developmental processes, it was possible to delineate specific separation-individuation object re lations patterns in each of the 3 age groups observed. There were clusters within age groups--the 3, 4, and 5 year olds presenting practicing, rapprochement, and object constancy issues, respectively. Communication patterns corresponding to the aforementioned object relations patterns were consistently displayed: the 3 year old group displayed communication in which the use of space was prominent; the four year old's communication was shaped by the child's need and ability actively not to communicate; the 5 year old group displayed the capacity for both intentional communication with others and with the self through fantasy play. These interrelated communication-object relations patterns supported the view of an essential continuity between communication processes and object relations processes set forth at the outset of the study.;The theoretical section explored the role of audition in early development to see if there is a rationale for expecting the major delays in separation-individuation observed. Specific and differentiable effects of audition at each of the separation-individuation subphases are described. The view is developed that the lack of hearing and its secondary effects in disrupting the communication process between mother and child does delay and distort early object development.;Some final comments regarding differentiating processes in the affective and cognitive spheres as they contribute to a concept of communication in early development are included.