A comparative study of the self-development models of Mahler and Stern
Hall, Kimberley A.
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The developmental perspectives of Margaret Mahler and Daniel Stern compellingly encapsulate inherent paradoxes and points of interaction among schools of thought about the dialectics between individuality and connection with others. As respective prototypes of an individuated-autonomous and relational model of self, the Mahler and Stern models were empirically compared using the videotape data of one child from 9 through 36 months. In so doing, this study asked about the comparative role of individual and relational structures of self in the transition between preverbal and early verbal development.;Two forms of a dynamic time regression model, an innovative multivariate vector autoregression analysis and a standard multiple regression analysis were combined, as they provided the statistical tools to analyze reciprocal causation between the multiple variables of each model and multiple variables of self. It was thereby possible to compare the construct validity of the Mahler and Stern models, as well as to statistically actualize the concept of mutual influence in the study self development beyond the first months of life.;The results of multivariate vector autoregression analysis show that the Stern Self explains slightly (early verbal) to much more (preverbal) of what's influencing the study child's self representations than Mahler Self. The correlational results of multiple regression analysis provided some inferential support for the preverbal finding. Thus, according to this study's findings, a relational model of self best explained self development in the time period under study. The findings of this exploratory study, as it looked at the inter/intra-subjective world from the point of view of the child and the child in the dyad, holds implications for both clinical theory and future research.