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Stranger

STRANGER

Fear of strangers (or stranger anxiety) is a normal emotional response that occurs in the second half of the first year of life; the concept was introduced and developed by René Spitz, who called it "eight-month anxiety."

This construction was the result of direct observation from a developmental psychoanalytic perspective. The fear of strangers reaction signals a point where development has encountered a difficulty or even gone off track. According to Spitz's conceptual framework, as outlined in "Anxiety and Infancy" (1950), eight-month anxiety marks a decisive phase in object relations: the infant's mental accession to object permanence. This is in contrast to the social smiling of the preceding period, which is addressed indifferently to both unknown and familiar faces, and comes after archaic pre-objectal fears and anxieties. It is referred to as the "first genuine manifestation of anxiety" (Spitz and Cobliner, 1965; Spitz 1968), and thus figures in interpretations and differences of opinion relating to separation anxiety and theories of anxiety in general.

Spitz's principle of "organizers" of mental life places eight-month anxiety as the second organizer. However the embryological metaphor implied by the term "organizer" has been contradicted by demonstrations of early interactive capacities in babies, while fear of strangers has been marginalized within metapsychology by attachment theory, which has attracted many adherents. John Bowlby argues that intrusions upon the primary need for attachment cause the infant to reject the traumatizing face. Serge Lebovici developed the concept of eight-month anxiety into a primary phobia with the proposed name "Stranger's-Face Phobia." This is a proto-phobia that unfolds via displacement onto the stranger of the infant's aggressive impulses against the mother. Thus it both protects her imago and appeals to her return. From the viewpoint of current psychosomatic theories of mental development in France (Pierre Marty), stranger anxiety evinces the emergence of various psychic functions. The absence of stranger anxiety is a symptom of mental deficiencies and is a remarkable indicator of the silence of the mechanisms of inter-relational and intra-psychical defense, which may be discerned from six to twelve months in disorders such as eczema (already observed by Spitz), asthma, anorexia nervosa, and the severe disorders caused by deficiencies in maternal care which are categorized under the name "empty behavior syndrome" (Léon Kreisler).

The distinction between separation anxiety and stranger anxiety has been clinically proven by the fact that they appear independently of one another. When it is not experiencing acute sensitivity to separation, the separated child (le petit allergique ) is all smiles to whomever it sees, stranger and familiar alike, like the baby described in the first of Spitz's organizers. As pure affect deprived of representation that repeats the baby's distress at being separated from the mother, anxiety separation affords a view onto the future development of eight-month anxiety, which is itself a prototype of object-anxieties, and hence the original prototype for mental development itself.

LÉon Kreisler

See also: Infant development.

Bibliography

Spitz, René A. (1950). Anxiety in infancy. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31.

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stranger

stran·ger / ˈstrānjər/ • n. a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar: don't talk to strangers| she remained a stranger to him. ∎  a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community: I'm a stranger in these parts | he must have been a stranger to the village. ∎  (stranger to) a person entirely unaccustomed to (a feeling, experience, or situation): he is no stranger to controversy. PHRASES: hello, stranger! humorous used to greet someone whom one has not seen for some time.

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Stranger

STRANGER

A third person; anyone who is not a party to a particular legal action or agreement.

For example, all those who are not parties to a particular contract are considered strangers to the contract.

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stranger

strangerbadger, cadger •Alger, neuralgia •ganja, grandeur, phalanger •charger, enlarger, maharaja, raja •slàinte • turbocharger •dredger, edger, hedger, ledger, pledger, St Leger •avenger, revenger •gauger, golden-ager, major, old-stager, pager, rampager, sergeant major, stager, wager •arranger, changer, danger, endanger, exchanger, Grainger, hydrangea, manger, ranger, stranger •moneychanger • teenager •bushranger •besieger, paraplegia, procedure •abridger •cringer, ginger, impinger, infringer, injure, ninja, whinger, winger •dowager • voyager • harbinger •bondager • wharfinger • packager •Scaliger •challenger, Salinger •pillager, villager •armiger • scrimmager •rummager, scrummager •manager • derringer • forager •porringer • encourager •Massinger, passenger •presager • messenger • Kissinger •integer, vintager •cottager • frontager • ravager •salvager • scavenger •Elijah, Niger, obliger •codger, dodger, lodger, roger, todger •forger, Georgia, gorger •gouger •lounger, scrounger •sunlounger • soldier •Abuja, puja

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