Daniel Stern

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Daniel N. Stern (August 16, 1934 in New York City) is a prominent psychoanalytic theorist, specializing in infant development. He is the author of a number of books on the subject, notably The Interpersonal World of the Infant (1985).



Daniel N. Stern started his training at Harvard University in 1956. He continued his educational career in medicine after which he worked in this field for several years. In 1964, Stern decided to specialize in psychiatric care, and in 1972 he started a psychoanalytic education at Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. [1]

For more than thirty years he has worked in research and practice as well in developmental psychology and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

In his research he dedicated his time to the observation of infants and to clinical reconstruction of early experiences. His efforts contribute to currently existing developmental theories.

He is well known as an expert researcher of early affective mother-child bonding. Research and discoveries on the field of affective bonding was one of his leading activities. At this moment, Daniel N. Stern is an honorary professor in Psychology at the University of Geneva, adjunct professor in the department of Psychiatry at Cornell university|the Cornell University Medical School and a lecturer at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. [2].

He holds an Honorary Doctorate at the Universities of Copenhagen, Dk; Palermo, It; Mons Hinault, Be; Alborg, Dk; Padua, It.

Theoretical contributions

Stern's most prominent works consider the area of motherhood and infants. In The Interpersonal World of the Infant, he proposed that an infant develops in a series of overlapping and interdependent stages which are increasingly interpersonally sophisticated. In other works he describes the motherhood constellation, a mother's instinctual focus on and devotion to her infant, as being critical to the child's development.


The prominent critical theorist and psychologist Felix Guattari draws extensively from Daniel Stern's Interpersonal World of the Infant to produce a theory of subjectivity and pre-linguistic consciousness in his book Chaosophy. In explaining Stern's idea, Guattari says, "[Daniel Stern] has notably explored the pre-verbal subjective formations of infants. He shows that these are not at all a matter of "stages" in the Freudian sense, but levels of subjectivation which maintain themselves in parallel throughout life. He thus rejects the overrated psychogenesis of Freudian complexes, which have been presented as structural "Universals" of subjectivity. Furthermore he emphasizes the inherently trans-subjective character of an infant's early experiences, which do no dissociate the feeling of self from the feeling of the other."[3]




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