Mark Sossin

Pace University, NYC

Co-regulated Sequential Patterns of Tension- and Shape-Flow in Parent-Infant Interaction: Affect Sharing and Affect Transmission

Bodily experience and familiarity with movement patterns of self and other are foundational in paving pathways toward the metacognition and affective experience that underlie mentalization. Building upon neurobiological substrates, emotions and intentions become knowable through parental reflective functioning, enriching subjectivity, intersubjectivity and representational capacities. This paper addresses questions pertaining to the taxonomy of individual and interactive movement patterns, and of the psychological meaningfulness of distinct movement qualities. Judith Kestenberg’s contribution of a classificatory system over 45 years ago, the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), offered an integration of  Laban Movement Analysis with psychoanalytic developmental theory.  The KMP’s  ‘fit’ with current psychoanalytic perspectives will be discussed.  Proposed correspondences between specified movement behaviors within the KMP model and developmentally anchored psychic functioning invite renewed study in light of the implicit predictions of embodiment.  The relevance of tension- and shape-flow patterns to affective experience, and of effort and shaping patterns to  intentions and internalized relationships, will be considered. Moreover, recent and ongoing studies, in collaboration with others, including Beatrice Beebe, Silvia Birklein, Frances La Barre, Jocelyn Shaw, Amy Reale, and Liliya Endres, incorporate KMP elements in research that go beyond an individual’s “repertoire.” Tension- and shape-flow patterns play roles in ‘marked’ or ‘heightened affective’ episodes in which a combination of affective sameness and differentiation are communicated. Distinct types of parental stress become embodied in parent-child interactive patterns. Self- and interactional-KMP variables, viewed through lag-sequential analyses, contribute to the identification of self- and co-regulatory processes. States of mind are shared, in which the parent’s feeling state influences the child’s and couple’s movement behaviors in altering self- and interactional contingencies. Ideas bearing upon the freeing and binding of tension, and of the growing and shrinking of body contours, and their relevance to affective experience and communication will be reconsidered in light of the research reported.