Ontological completion in the adult-infant system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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In this paper I explore the ontology of the mother-infant system to define moments of physiological and psychological co-operation that form one entity for the completion of 'units of process'. These moments of coupling between mother and infant form ontological wholes with shared consciousness. For example, in the case of extreme, acute neonatal anxiety a process is initiated by the infant requiring co-regulation with an adult other. The adult other provides closure to the process of anxiety, giving ontological completeness to the process. This process of initiation, build, climax, and closure is illustrated by the infant’s vocal cry, which parallels the regulatory process. The need for another in this particular processual unit demonstrates the infant in this event is not a distinct entity, but is embedded in a parent-infant system that together forms one unified whole.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalPsyArXiv Preprints
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2018


  • process ontology
  • process metaphysics
  • intersubjectivity
  • mother-infant dyad
  • shared consciousness
  • infant anxiety
  • containment

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  • Projects

    Living Organisms and Their Choices

    Delafield-Butt, J., Phemister, P. & Wheeler, W.


    Project: Research

    Research Output

    • 1 Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary
    • 1 Chapter (peer-reviewed)
    • 1 Article

    Prospective organisation of neonatal arm movements: a motor foundation of embodied agency, disrupted in premature birth

    Delafield-Butt, J. T., Freer, Y., Perkins, J., Skulina, D., Schögler, B. & Lee, D. N., 19 Jun 2018, In : Developmental Science. 16 p., e12693.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)
    19 Downloads (Pure)

    The emotional and embodied nature of human understanding: sharing narratives of meaning

    Delafield-Butt, J., 6 Sep 2018, The Child's Curriculum: Working with the Natural Values of Young Children . Trevarthen, C., Delafield-Butt, J. & Dunlop, A-W. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 59-84 34 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Development of consciousness

    Trevarthen, C. & Delafield-Butt, J., 1 Oct 2017, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development . Hopkins, B., Geangu, E. & Linkenauger, S. (eds.). 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 821-835 15 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

    Open Access
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