Micro-traumatic Experiences and Psychotherapeutic Treatment

Alessandro S. Cavelzani (Fatebenefratelli Hospital)
Martina Trinchieri (Società Italiana di Psicoanalisi della Relazione)
Maria Carlotta F. Gorio (L Sacco University of Milan)
Lucia Romeo (Buzzi Children’s Hospital of Milan)

Article ID: 388

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jim.v7i2.388


It’s becoming even more widely recognized from neurosciences, epigenetics, and clinical research on observation of infant-caregiver interaction that daily cumulated micro-traumatic experiences cause damages not only to one’s mental health and identity, but also to immune system, leading to metabolic, eating, sleeping, affective, behavioural, cognitive and linguistic, and social disorders in adults as well as in children and infants. Relational Psychoanalytic treatment argues that the therapeutic change is related to expanding levels of consciousness and exploring new ways of being in the world. Clinical examples are provided.


Trauma; Maltreatment; Mother-infant attachment; Therapeutic change; Relational psychoanalysis

Full Text:



[1] Beebe B., Cohen P., Lachmann F. (2016) The mother-infant interaction picture book. New York, NY: Norton

[2] Beebe B., & Lachmann, F. (2002). Infant research and adult treatment: co-constructing interactions. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

[3] Brenner C. (2014), Breve corso di psicoanalisi. Giunti, Firenze (1973)

[4] Cavelzani A., Tronick E. (2016a), Dyadically Expanded States of Consciousness and Therapeutic Change in the Interaction Between Analyst and Adult Patient. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, vol 26, n°5.

[5] Cavelzani A., Tronick E. (2016b), Reply to Roggero and Minolli’s Commentary: Restoring the Working Alliance, or Crisis and Developmental Opportunity? Mismatching and Reparation in Multiple Different Meanings. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, vol 26, n°5.

[6] Crastnopol M. (2015) Micro-trauma. A psychoanalytic understanding of cumulative psychic injury. Routledge (USA)

[7] Fivaz-Depeursinge E., Philipp D.A. (2014) The Baby and the couple. Understanding and treating young families. Routledge, UK

[8] Freud S. (1895). Progetto di una psicologia. O.S.F. 2.

[9] Freud S. (1925). Inibizione, sintomo e angoscia. O.S.F. 10.

[10] Harrison, A., & Tronick, E. Z. (2007). Now we have a playground: Emerging new ideas of therapeutic action. Journal American Psychoanalytic Association, 55(3), 853–874.

[11] Harrison, A. (2009). Setting up the dolls’ house: A developmental perspective on termination. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 29, 174–187

[12] Laplanche J., Pontalis J.B. (2008). Enciclopedia della Psicoanalisi. Laterza Editore (1981)

[13] Main M., Hesse E., Kaplan, N. (2005) Predictability of attachment behavior and representational processes at 1, 6, and 19 years of age. In: Grossman K.E., Grossman K., Waters E. (Eds) Attachment from infancy to adulthood: the major longitudinal studies (pp. 245-304). New York, NY: Guilford

[14] Meadows R. (1982). Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Arch Dis Child, 57, 92 – 98

[15] Minolli M. (2015). Essere e Divenire. Franco Angeli, Milano

[16] Minolli M. (2010). Psicoanalisi della Relazione. Franco Angeli, Milano

[17] Provenzi L., Giorda R., Beri S., Montirosso R. (2016a) SLC6A4 methylation as an epigenetic marker of life adversity exposures in humans: A systematic review of literature, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 71, August 2016

[18] Provenzi L., Fumagalli M., Bernasconi F., Montirosso R. (2016b) Very Preterm and Full-Term Infants’ Response to Socio-Emotional Stress: The Role of Postnatal Maternal Bonding, Infancy, November 2016

[19] Provenzi L., Giusti L., Montirosso R. (2016c) Do infants exhibit significant cortisol reactivity to the Face-to-Face Still-Face paradigm? A narrative review and meta-analysis, Developmental Review, July 2016

[20] Sander, L. (2008). Living systems, evolving consciousness, and the emerging person. New York, NY: The Analytic Press.

[21] Seligman S. (2017) Relationships in Development: Infancy, Intersubjectivity, and Attachment. Routledge, UK

[22] Seligman S. & Harrison A. (2012) Infancy research, infant mental health, and adult psychotherapy: Mutual influences. Infant Mental Health Journal, Vol 33, N°4

[23] Seligman, S., & Shanok, R. S. (1995). Subjectivity, complexity and the social world Erikson’s identity concept and contemporary relational theories. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 5, 537–565

[24] Schreier H. (2002). Munchausen by Proxy defined. Pediatrics Vol 110, No 5.

[25] Skau K., Mouridsen S.E. (1995). Munchausen Syndrome by proxy: a review. Acta paediatric 84:977-82

[26] Tronick E.Z., Apter G., Devouche E., Garez V., Valente M., Genet M.-C, Gratier M., Dominguez S., (2017). The Still-Face: A Greater Challenge for Infants of Mothers With Borderline Personality Disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, Vol 31, N°2

[27] Tronick, E. Z. (2007). The Neurobehavioral and social-emotional development of infants and children. New York.


  • There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright © 2019 Alessandro S. Cavelzani

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.