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© 2010 American Psychological Association 0736-9735/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0019510
ATTACHMENT IS ABOUT SAFETY AND PROTECTION, INTERSUBJECTIVITY IS ABOUT SHARING AND SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING
The Relationships Between Attachment and Intersubjectivity
Mauricio Cortina, MD
Attachment and Human Development Center, Washington School of Psychiatry, Washington, DC
Giovanni Liotti, MD
Association for the Research of Attachment and Development, Rome
The relationships between intersubjectivity and attachment are beginning to be explored within the psychoanalytic and developmental literature. We contribute to this comparative effort by exploring the different evolutionary origins of attachment and intersubjectivity. Five interlocking themes are central to this article. First, from an evolutionary perspective, attachment and intersubjectivity serve different functions. The main function of attachment is to seek protection, whereas the main function of intersubjectivity is to communicate, at intuitive and automatic levels, with members of the same species and to facilitate social understanding. Second, to survive in changing and highly competitive environments, an evolutionary strategy emerged among our human ancestors based on developing high levels of cooperation within small bands of hunters and gatherers. In turn, high levels of cooperation and social complexity put selective pressures toward developing effective modes of communication and more complex forms of social understanding (mindreading/ mentalizing/intersubjective abilities). These abilities far surpass mindreading abilities among our closest Great Ape relatives. Third, we provide further evidence for this hypothesis showing that in comparison with other Great Apes, young children show qualitatively different levels of collaboration and altruism. Fourth, we provide an overview of the development of attachment and intersubjective abilities during the ﬁrst 2 years of life that support the hypothesis of a cooperative origin of intersubjectivity. Fifth,
Mauricio Cortina, MD, Attachment and Human Development Center, Washington School of Psychiatry, Washington, DC; Seminario de sociopsicoanalisis, A.C. Mexico City, Mexico; Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Washington, DC; Giovanni Liotti, MD, Association for the Research of Attachment and Development, Rome. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mauricio Cortina, 8737 Colesville Road, Suite 303, Silver Spring, MD 20910. E-mail: email@example.com
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we return to the main theme of this article showing three ways in which attachment and intersubjective abilities can be distinguished. We conclude by exploring some clinical implications of this cooperative–intersubjective model of human development. Keywords: attachment, intersubjectivity, cooperation, motivation, group selection, cultural evolution
The Relations Between Attachment and Intersubjectivity
Theories in regard to attachment and intersubjectivity developed independently from each other as can be seen in the classic contributions on attachment (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1969/1982, 1973, 1980) and on intersubjectivity (Aron, 1996; Attwood & Stolorow, 1984; Benjamin, 1992; Ogden, 1994; Stern, 1985). Several authors have begun to approach the relation between attachment and intersubjectivity (Cortina, 2008; Diamond & Marrone, 2003; Fonagy, 2001; Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, & Target, 2002; Fonagy & Target, 2008; Gergely & Unoka, 2008; Jurist, 2008; Lyons-Ruth, 1999, 2006; Stern, 2004; Stern et al., 1990). Three distinct approaches can be discerned.
Is Mentalization Intrinsic to the Attachment System?
The ﬁrst approach, taken by Fonagy and his collaborators (2001), revises the classic formulation of the function of attachment as protection in moments of danger to a “mentalizing” function (we use the terms advanced intersubjective abilities, mindreading abilities, mentalizing functions, metacognitive monitoring, and theory of mind (ToM) more or less interchangeably).1 Bateman and Fonagy deﬁne “mentalizing” as the ability
We think concepts of theory of mind (ToM), metacognitive monitoring, mentalization or mindreading abilities, and advanced intersubjective abilities—that have different research and intellectual origins—are nonetheless all pointing to the same basic phenomena, namely the ability to read the intentions, emotions, and goals of others and the ability to observe and reﬂect on one’s own internal experience. This is less obvious with ToM that has a strong cognitive slant and is measured by the use of false-belief tasks. Here is a simple example of a false-belief task (Hrdy, 2009, p. 136). Ask a 2- to 5-year-old that is sitting in mother’s lap to watch carefully while setting a cookie on a table. Then ask the mother to close her eyes and then hide the cookie in your lap. With mother’s eyes still shut, now ask the child where his mother thinks the cookie is. Typically developing 3- and 4-year-old children will answer that the mother will look in your leg. Almost all 5-year-olds are able to put themselves in their mother’s place and say she will look for the cookie on the table (for review, see Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001). In the past few years, several studies show that young children can “pass” false-belief tests if they do not rely on language—language may have a causal role in ToM development (Astington & Jenkins, 1999; Lohmann & Tomasello, 2003). These nonverbal tests elicit children’s spontaneous responses (as opposed to elicited responses that use language) and are based on anticipationlooking tasks and violation-of expectation tasks that operate on the principle that infants and young children will look longer at an event that violates their expectations. Based on these nonverbal tests, it is clear that by the second year of life typically developing children can pass false belief tests (for review, see Scott & Baillargeon, 2009). Using another experimental design that builds on infants desire to help others, Butterman, Carpenter and Tomasello (2009) demonstrate that 18-month-old infants clearly can understand false beliefs. Recognizing that ToM has a developmental progression has made it possible to begin to align ToM research with developmental intersubjective theories (Beebe, Knoblauch, Rustin, & Sorter, 2005; Benjamin, 2004; Lyons-Ruth & Jacobvitz, 1999; Stern, 1985, 2006; Trevarthen, 1980; Trevarthen & Hubley, 1978) and with theories of mentalization that are also developmental (Fonagy et al., 2002)—but see Gergely and Zsolt (2008) for a different point of view that sees mentalization as an innate social-cognitive evolutionary adaptation that emerges by 12 months of age.
CORTINA AND LIOTTI
to understand the intentions, goals, and emotional states of self and others (Bateman & Fonagy, 2004). According to Fonagy (2001):
. . . . . . the early relationship environment is crucial not because it shapes the quality of subsequent relationships (for which evidence is lacking, as we have seen) but because it serves to equip the individual with a mental processing system that will subsequently generate mental representation, including relationship representations. The creation of this representational system is arguably the most important evolutionary function of the attachment to the caregiver. Adopting this perspective helps redress the prevailing bias against the centrality of the family as the major force in socialization, but it also shifts the emphasis from content of experience to psychological structure or mental mechanisms and involves expanding on current ideas of the evolutionary function of attachment.” (our italics, p. 31)
Contrary to what Fonagy asserts, there is some very good longitudinal evidence showing the effects of the early attachment relation on subsequent relations (Sroufe, Egeland, Carlson, & Collins, 2005). Yet, our main disagreement with Fonagy is his revision of attachment theory as serving a primary function of being able to read the minds of others (the mentalizing function). Fonagy does not deny the protective function of attachment, but he moves in the direction of making attachment theory into a theory of mental representations of attachment-based relations. It is the case that the ability to develop coherent representational models of the attachment relation is one of the most important outcomes of a secure attachment history in humans. It is also the case that the nature of these representational models strongly predicts the quality of attachment that person will develop with their offspring (Fonagy, Steele, & Steele, 1991). However, this does not mean that intensive parental care and the formation of attachment bonds emerged during the course of evolution to have coherent representations of attachment relations. Many mammals, like mice, exhibit vigorous attachment behaviors yet lack sophisticated representational models of attachment relationships. Even primate species, like the baboons, with a complex social life, lack full-blown mindreading abilities of humans that allow them to understand attachment behaviors of juveniles from their perspective (Cheney & Seyfarth, 2007). Here is an example based on an observation that the authors dubbed “the Lord of the Flies incident” (pp. 163–164). Annual ﬂoods in the Okavanga Delta in Botswana produce islands. Baboons have to swim to get around the ﬂooded areas. Adult baboons carry the juveniles who cannot swim on their backs. On one occasion, the adults crossed to another island, leaving almost all the group’s juveniles behind. Not surprisingly, the juveniles found this separation very distressing, and they gave agitated bark and scream calls that signal separation distress and huddled together at night. To the consternation of the research team, the adult baboons heard the calls and looked toward the juveniles, but except for one baboon, none answered the calls nor made an effort to swim back to get the juveniles (the danger is real because lions often take advantage of these situations). The authors’ interpretation is that baboons “do not appear to understand that their knowledge and abilities are different from someone else’s” (p. 165). This observation should serve as a cautionary tale suggesting that what constitutes an adaptive attachment system in one species might look quite different in other species. This is particularly so for humans, in whom intersubjective forms of communication are much more complex and sophisticated than in other primate species, a point that we elaborate in this article.
. Gehring. The attachment system and the mentalizing abilities might be associated with a bimodal reaction to stress that “turns on” some parts of the brain and peripheral nervous system while “turning off others. the heart and skeletal muscles are “turned on” and the stomach is “turned off” to prepare for ﬁght or ﬂight. Gyorgy Gergely—who had collaborated with Fonagy and others in a previous book supporting a strong view of the causal and functional connection between attachment and mentalizing function (Fonagy et al. recent evidence in 4. and the development of the ability for mindreading on the other” (p. Supporting the latter.to 6-year-old children engaged in false-belief tasks shows increased neural activity in the prefrontal cortex as measured by recording surface electrical activity in the brain of those children who pass false-beliefs tests correctly. In the central nervous system. or the frequent use of words to name feelings used in some families (Cutting & Dunn. In the peripheral nervous system. 1999) also facilitate theory of mind development. there is strong longitudinal evidence showing that language has a causal role in theory of mind development (Astington & Jenkins. Saggagh. & Clements. norepinephrine. 2009). Lohmann & Tomasello. causal and functional link between the quality of infant attachment on one hand. Parkin. 2002)— has now taken the position similar to ours that attachment and intersubjective mentalizing abilities are functionally and developmentally distinct but interrelated systems (Gergely & Unoka. Liotti. physiologically and anatomically distinct systems. whereas mentalizing activities are linked to the prefrontal cortex and left brain. 2004. They point to an article by Arnsten (1998) that helps explain the neurobiological basis for this inverse relationship. and epinephrine) are released in the central and peripheral nervous system.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 413 More recently. all this would support the view that the attachment system and mindreading abilities are functionally. a hyperactivation of the attachment system induced by trauma dramatically reduces the capacity for mentalizing functions. or that having older siblings (Ruffman. & Wellman. In sum. Fonagy and Target note that the attachment system is closely associated with the subcortical right brain structures. we completely agree that in cases of trauma involving attachment ﬁgures. the attachment system and mentalizing abilities operate in an inverse relation.. 2008). But this adverse effect is very speciﬁc to relations that may cue for traumatic memories and activate an already hyperaroused attachment system—as can easily happen in psychotherapy (Liotti. these catecholamines “turn on” the amygdala and “turn off” the prefrontal cortex. That is. 1999). 51).” During conditions of uncontrollable stress—learned helplessness induced by trauma is an example— catecholamine neuromodulators (dopamine. Naito. In support of this view they note that the correlation between secure attachment and higher-order mentalizing activities—as measured in theory of mind tasks using the false-belief testing paradigm—are not very robust. 2008). 2003). there are very clear adverse effects on mentalizing functions. There is also evidence showing that complementary role playing. but not in children who do not (Liu. Although Fonagy and Target don’t say so explicitly. there is a collapse of mentalizing abilities. All this supports the view that intersubjective mentalizing abilities have a line of development that is independent from (but intertwined with) the development of secure or insecure attachment relationships. such as the case of attachment-related trauma. Without denying that in some situations. Gergely and Unoka dispute the view that “there is an inherent. Cortina. For instance. 1999. Fonagy and Target (2008) seem to have modiﬁed their position by noting that in cases of trauma produced by attachment ﬁgures. They also note that there are many developmental factors that strongly predict false-belief understanding by age four that have little or no connection to attachment. Perner. & Farina.
1988). 2005) or the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis in honor of the great Russian psychologist (Moll & Tomasello. 2001). That is. Among our human ancestors there was a very signiﬁcant slowing down of maturational processes. and Developmental Plasticity In addition to a within-group cooperation/outer-group competition evolutionary model (with selection taking place at the level of groups). chronos ϭ time. That is. that is. 1999).414 CORTINA AND LIOTTI Competition and Cooperation and the Evolution of the Social Brain There are other points of agreement and disagreement between Fonagy and Target (2008) on one hand and with Gergely and Unoka (2008) on the other that we would like to address. Nonetheless. 1998. Fonagy and Target support Alexander’s hypothesis (1989) that as humans became a dominant species during the Pleistocene era. A slow maturation required intensive parental care of very immature (altricial) offspring over a very long period of development. & Henrike. the “arms race” with other groups initiated a mutually reinforcing synergy between greater degrees of cooperation. changes in the timing of development) or life history strategies. Tomasello. there is one more point we want to discuss that is germane to a central hypothesis in this article. Finlay. McKinney. there is some evidence that another important evolutionary strategy responsible for the expansion of the neocortex was change in the onset and timing of development processes. Call. Life History Strategies. had to produce a very signiﬁcant gain in order for this evolutionary strategy to succeed. Behne. creating a very long period of development. In this scenario. mentalizing abilities and cultural diversity (Richerson & Boyd. What we want to add to this evolutionary hypothesis is that the ﬁrst step that allowed our human ancestors to become a dominant species might have been their ability to cooperate together in ways that far surpass any known primate species. An important consequence of this tinkering was maintaining rapid rates of brain development (more neurons and greater synaptic and dendritic growth) into the third year of life (Finlay & Darlington. 2005. 2005. One important example of a life history strategy is the slowing down or accelerating of development (Gould. Prolonged Dependency. Tomasello. This idea is often referred to in evolutionary literature as the Machiavellian brain hypothesis (Byrne & Whitten. Carpenter. McKinney & McNamara. The very high cost of taking care of altricial offspring over a very long period of development. our main competitors became other nomadic hunter gatherer groups. the most protracted of any known species (for review. We think that the main gain was to . 2008). mindreading abilities evolved as the result of an “arms race” that put selective pressures on mutations that fostered mindreading abilities among our human ancestors in competition with other groups. 1991). see Flin & Ward. 1977. referred to in the evolutionary literature as heterochrony (hetero ϭ different. We do not doubt that competitive evolutionary strategies supported the expansion of the neocortex and mindreading abilities among our Great Ape relatives. This idea is beginning to be referred to as the cultural intelligence hypothesis (Boyd & Richerson. & Nicastro. 2005. The need to compute this level of social complexity within highly cooperative groups might have a causal effect on the expansion of the neocortex in humans (Dunbar & Shultz. what drove the evolution of mindreading were strategies aimed at outwitting competitors by use of subterfuge and deceit. but this would require prolonging an already long article. Darlington. 2007). 1995. 2007). Gibbons. High levels of cooperation (rather than competition) put selective pressures on mutations that increased social understanding and advanced intersubjective communication.
intentions and mental states similar to one’s own (Meltzoff. that is. 2007). attachment ﬁgures are able to integrate their own attachment histories with intersubjective mind-reading and empathic abilities.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 415 produce an unprecedented degree of developmental plasticity and adaptive ﬂexibility among our human ancestors (Bjorklund & Rosenberg. Of course. Idealizing. desires and aspirations. 2009). not the attachment system. validate. affect sharing/validation (intersubjectivity) and cooperation based on a sense of mutuality and shared basic needs. and recognition. mirroring and twinship transferences (Kohut. attachment ﬁgures that are sensitive to the need to recognize. Parents’ abilities to help regulate their infants’ arousal levels and emotions. Making this distinction addresses some of the issues that get entangled in thinking about attachment. 1992). The idealizing transference consists of seeing the other (often a parent in childhood) as being stronger and wiser than self and ﬁts with Bowlby’s deﬁnition of an attachment ﬁgure (being perceived as stronger and wiser). But these are parental functions that are associated with the caregiving system. and narrows considerably some of the differences between our approach and Lichtenberg’s. parental functions. in this sense. Our objection to this approach is that it conﬂates the attachment system with the caregiving system and with selfobject functions. Hrdy. to include many other important functions. “selfobject” functions (broadly speaking) proposed by Kohut and his followers (Kohut. 1977). It is the case that attachment ﬁgures do much more than provide protection for their infants during periods of distress. 2009). 2005. What about attachment and selfobject functions? Kohut proposed three “selfobject” experiences that could be expressed as idealizing. From the perspective of the infant. Lichtenberg agrees that the attachment system and caregiving system need to be conceptualized as distinct but related systems (personal communication with Joseph Lichtenberg on March 23. is based on the experience of being (or not having been) adequately recognized. to read their signals and respond empathically to their needs—what Ainsworth described as sensitive responsiveness—are essential to help infants become secure in their attachment to caregivers. Twinship transferences are based on the ability to see others “like me” while assuming that others will also “see me”. The mirroring transference. validated and admired by parental ﬁgures. but an intersubjective ability based on the capacity to imagine others as having desires. a need that was particularly important among our human ancestors who evolved in rich and complex social groups. expands the concept of attachment as providing security. and admire (when appropriate) their infants’ and children’s unique emotions. validation. but we think it is better not to lump them all together as “attachment” but maintain a distinction between security and protection (attachment). This is not an attachment function. We agree that these are all important needs. intentions and mental states are more likely to develop a secure attachment with them. Are Selfobject Functions Part of the Attachment System? A second approach integrating attachment and intersubjectivity taken by Joseph Lichtenberg (1989. This is the basis for the human ability to collaborate and share with others as equals. In the best of cases. The mirroring selfobject experience probably evolved out of the need to recognize members of the same species as unique individuals. and intersubjectivity. such as affect regulation. 1971. 1971. 1977). is directly connected to the attachment system. The need to be “mirrored” has a very different function than the safety function of attachment. however. being able to integrate these two lines of development—attachment and intersubjectivity—is a challenge that will depend heavily on the quality of their relationship with .
2009. Motives that emerge from the intersubjective matrix (intimate sharing and altruistically cooperating with others) have a less intense quality than attachment or sexual needs. it is also an innate primary motivation system. 2002). noting that intersubjective communication is not a motivational system in the same way attachment is a motivational system. attachment and intersubjective motives belong to different levels of organization and have very different degrees of speciﬁcity.416 CORTINA AND LIOTTI their caregivers and caregivers’ ability to respond to their infants as subjects in their own right. Dunbar & Shultz. Wilson. 2007. Lyons Ruth (2006) makes a similar point. We also agree with Stern that intersubjective sharing becomes an emergent motivation in humans. We completely agree with her. but become disjointed during atypical development. According to Stern by the end of the ﬁrst year intersubjective relatedness begins to exhibit a quality that is experienced as a felt desire or need. a need or desire to share with others and the need to deﬁne and maintain self-identity or self-cohesion. and we will provide evolutionary and developmental arguments and empirical data that . since in humans intersubjective communication has a ubiquitous role that permeates all other mental functions and makes us uniquely human. By different degrees of speciﬁcity we mean two things. p. (2) self-identity or self-cohesion is threatened. According to Stern intersubjectivity is “not only a condition of our humanness. and (3) the desire for psychic intimacy is great—as in falling in love—a need that ﬁts the broader function of regulating psychological closeness and distance. From an evolutionary perspective. essential for species survival and has a status like sex or attachment” (Stern. 2004. He describes two main types of need: ﬁrst. We will not address the second point in regard to self-cohesion because it would take us too far aﬁeld. Attachment and Intersubjectivity Have Distinct Functions. 2006. 97). we agree with Stern that intersubjectivity becomes a motive that may be felt as a need for intimacy. but we think it is also related to the importance of the group as a unit of survival during human evolution. In terms of the third point about the need for psychic intimacy. This latter need echoes the enormous importance that Kohut placed on self-cohesion as an overall principle of psychic functioning. but this agreement has an important caveat. caregiving or sexual motives. But Become Intertwined During the Course of Development A third approach consistent with our general thesis of distinct but related functions between attachment behaviors and intersubjective abilities has been developed by Daniel Stern (1985. To understand the ﬁrst point—why intersubjective communication and social understanding is related to group functions—requires situating the emergence of advanced intersubjective functions in a larger evolutionary context of a multilevel view of selection that focuses on the importance of group selection for human evolution (Bowles. 2004) and Karlen Lyons-Ruth (2006). According to Stern intersubjective motives can be speciﬁcally activated when (1) one’s place in a group is thrown into question or when rapidly coordinated group functions are needed. Stern supports his view of intersubjectivity as a source of motivation by noting that intersubjective motives have two characteristics that we usually attribute to a motivational system: a quality of need or desire. and the conditions under which intersubjective motives become active are more general than the more speciﬁc conditions that activate attachment. and speciﬁc sets of conditions under which these needs or desires become activated. Our general approach is very similar to the one taken by Stern and Lyons Ruth in seeing attachment and intersubjectivity as two distinct domains with different evolutionary origins that are closely intertwined during typical development. Bowles. 2004.
ﬂexible. Bowles. It permits more efﬁcient. in addition to the desire to share experience with others. For now. this joint intentional (and attentional) format becomes in humans the basis for a “cooperative infrastructure in our species. as observed among the few surviving bands of nomadic hunter gatherers that still exist in the world (Boehm. To avoid misunderstandings. but have important clinical implications that we will address later. or sexual motives. According to Stern (2004. The ﬁrst three parts examine the possible origins of human hypercooperativeness from several evolutionary perspectives. 2005).000 years ago (Boehm. 1999. there is another important motivation that emerges in humans during the second year of life: A cooperative/altruistic motive to engage with others (mostly caregivers. and coordinated group functioning and it provides the basis for morality to act in maintaining group cohesion and language to act in group communication. 1999. caregiving. 2008). a gap we will try to ﬁll in the next section of this article.8 million years to 10. 2005. we want to emphasize that these distinctions are not just an academic exercise. language and culture might have emerged during the course of human evolution (Tomasello. but strangers too) in the pursuit of joint goals and plans of action. It promotes group formation and coherence. 2006. This motive builds on the ability to understand the intentions of others. Despite some differences with Stern in regard to whether intersubjective motives for intimacy and sharing have the same degree of urgency and speciﬁcity as attachment. Boyd & Richerson. A fundamental shift occurred during the course of human evolution from a social organization based primarily on competition and dominant hierarchies that is prevalent among other primates to a social organization based on equality and cooperation. Tomasello et al. we think Stern’s proposals are bold and break new ground in several directions by considering intersubjectivity as a source of human motivation (a proposal which has many similarities to Tomasello’s and Colwyn Trevarthen’s work) and by linking intersubjectivity with group survival functions that enhance group functioning. 1995. 1999). The Evolution of Human Cooperation We think that the crucial adaptation responsible for the evolution of advanced forms of intersubjective mindreading abilities has been the extraordinary increase in the level of cooperation that took place among our homo ancestors (perhaps starting with Homo erectus) during Pleistocene era or the era of ancestral humans—1. 105) “intersubjectivity contributes to group survival.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 417 support this position. p. we want to stress that although the main form of social organization among primates is based on dominance hierarchies. In the fourth part we turn to comparative data between humans and chimpanzees that supports the view that human cooperation is qualitatively different from cooperative behaviors observed among the Great Apes. rapid. 2008)..” Tomasello and his collaborators have developed an impressive research agenda showing how this cooperative infrastructure is fundamental to understanding how high order intersubjective (mindreading) abilities. Human Forms of Cooperation far Surpass Cooperative Behaviors Observed Among Our Closest Primate Relatives This section is divided in to four parts. a “we” or shared form of intentionality (Searle.” Stern does not offer much evidence to support these interesting thoughts. As Tomasello and his collaborators show (2008). 2005). 2003. In keeping with Tomasello’s ground breaking theoretical and empirical agenda (1999. this does not mean .
p. and tools use (“gadget technologies”) point to a common matrix (Kuhn & Stiner. such as patterns of radiation. nor do conditional strategies explain the spontaneous helping gestures that 18-month-olds exhibit toward strangers: these spontaneous gestures are not based on rewards (Warneken & Tomasello. unpredictable food supplies. and chimpanzees and bonobos have been shown to engage in peacemaking activities (de Waal. however. The most widely accepted evolutionary explanation for cooperative social behavior among members that are not related genetically is based on the concept of reciprocal altruism (Axelrod & Hamilton. This theory is known as kin selection or inclusive ﬁtness. Chimpanzees have even been observed going out in hunting expeditions and will protect territorial boundaries as a group (Goodall. Trivers. chimpanzees can establish alliances with others to maintain their rank or to reach a higher rank (de Waal. 1989). 1971). that ﬁrst surround their prey. 1999). the more likely that the beneﬁts of altruism will be passed on to the next generation. Boehm’s review of available anthropological data shows that the egalitarian organization can remain remarkably similar across continents as long as hunter gatherer societies continue a nomadic existence (Boehm. 2005). For instance. & Ratnieks. Mitani. we think that they do not account for the type of altruism seen in humans as observed among nomadic hunters and gatherers. This is a conditional strategy that is only superﬁcially altruistic since it is primarily motivated by self-interest. 1986. Reciprocal altruism can be modeled on a tit for tat exchange of the type “I will cooperate with you as long as you cooperate with me”: either person will resort to selﬁshness at the ﬁrst signs of noncooperation. wasps and bees (Hughes. Each individual member who is closest to the prey will attack in sequence. investment in technologies that reﬂect seasonal changes. how could this level of cooperative and altruistic behaviors have evolved? Cooperative and altruistic behaviors among closely related kin has had a solid evolutionary explanation ever since Hamilton (1963. We acknowledge. 2 As Tomasello points out (2008.2 Why would contemporary hunter gatherers serve as a model for Paleolithic hunters and gatherers? A number of similar characteristics and conditions. and the range of cooperation is quite extensive. cooperation and altruism toward nonkin members of a group—such as the case of human hunter gatherers—is a relatively rare evolutionary occurrence. . that chimpanzees have coordinated plans with different roles to play as is the case among human hunter gatherers. If selection favors individuals that look out for their own self-interest. In contrast to the ubiquity of the role kin selection has had among many species of animals. that the hypothesized continuity of adaptive strategies during middle to late Pleistocene era and contemporary hunter gatherers must remain as a place holder until further evidence comes from different sources supporting this linkage. as some have adduced (Boesch. 2008). the closer the genetic relation. 1981. This type of group hunting is more akin to similar group hunting activities among wolves. This might seem like a coordinated “plan” of attack. One can think of this strategy as a form of genetic nepotism. 1964) came up with the brilliant idea that altruism can evolve by altruistic individuals passing on their genes to blood relatives. 1982). hunting for large mammals. 2001). 173). They do. Beekman. but it is not.418 CORTINA AND LIOTTI that primates do not cooperate in many ways. Moreover. While we do not doubt that different forms of cooperation might have evolved from these conditional strategies (such as the ability of many apes to form strategic alliances in order to maintain or gain an upper hand within social hierarchies). 2006). Oldroyd. this type or group hunting does not mean. including eusocial (truly social) insects such as ants.
Boyd & Richerson. they operate on the principal of maximizing gains in competitive situations and make decisions based on self-interest (Jensen. Trivers. Wilson & Sober. 1982. 2007). & Tomasello. 2002. but they are now receiving renewed interest thanks to the emerging multilevel view of selection. Wilson. individuals within groups. 2005. Simply put. A reciprocal sense of fairness is uniquely human.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 419 2006) nor do they ﬁt well with infant researchers’ observations of the sheer delight linked to intersubjective sharing among infants and their mothers (Hobson. & Fehr. 2005. 2002. 1988. 2006. Trevarthen. An experiment done with chimpanzees engaged in a simpliﬁed version of the Ultimatum Game found that they are “selfmaximizers.” That is. Boyd & Richerson. 2003). 1994). An alternative hypothesis to reciprocal altruism to explain these deeper forms of altruism and cooperation toward nonkin members is based on the resurgent theories of group selection. such a reciprocal altruism are wrong. Trevarthen & Hubley. 2006. 2007. This strong form of reciprocity has been demonstrated in many different human groups and cultures. Sober & Wilson. even if doing so means that they will not receive any money at all. 1971) but situates these insights within a more general and inclusive theory that sees selection operating at multiple and at times competing hierarchical levels. 2004. they will often refuse it. Group selection theories had been discredited for years. If individuals playing the game perceive that the offer is grossly unfair and greedy. 1999. groups with more cooperative and altruistic members will outcompete groups that are less cooperative and altruistic. A more precise deﬁnition of what is meant by a group from an evolutionary perspective (based on a focus on traits such as altruism) as well as more precise and clear sets of conditions under which group selection may prevail—in order to counteract strong selective forces operating at lower levels of individuals— have made it possible to empirically test group selection for any given trait. 1998. Moll & Tomasello. 2006. nor do game theories explain the human desire to cooperate for the sole pleasure of sharing with others in joint activities (Stern. Sober & Wilson. There is now a growing scientiﬁc consensus that group selection has played a signiﬁcant role during the course of evolution. Reciprocal altruism might account for the type of cooperation seen among nonhuman apes in competitive situations involving forming alliances and coalitions with others. 2006. . Another source of data that puts into question whether conditional strategies can account for advanced forms of cooperation seen in humans are based on experiments in adult populations using the “Ultimatum Game. and groups within a metapopulation of groups (Boyd. 1998). The multilevel view of selection preserves some of the insights and discoveries made by kin selection (Hamilton.. Trevarthen. Bowles. 1981. It is not that evolutionary game theories. Bowles. 2009. 1963) and of game theories (Axelrod & Hamilton. Call. This perspective sees selective processes operating at multiple and often competing levels: genes within individuals. Bowles. The results of many experiments using this game show that a sense of fairness (“a strong form of reciprocity”) often defeats strategies based on self-interest (Gintis. and is particularly relevant to explain the case of human evolution (Boehm. 1978). Okasha. but do not explain the strong tendency of humans to cooperate as equals based on a sense of reciprocity and fair play. individuals are given the choice to make more money (the self-interest strategy) or make less or no money at all depending on how their opposite number behaves in each round of the Ultimatum Game. a ﬁnding that supports the hypothesis that it is a stable strategy inﬂuenced by culturally mediated norms of cooperation and fairness (Henrich et al. the game pits self-interest against a sense of cooperation and fairness. In others words. 1988). Boyd. 2005). in competing against other groups.” In this game. Maynard Smith. Okasha.
so that the high costs of enforcement does not fall on just a few individuals (Boyd. Why cooperative breeding? Shared care frees the mother to engage in foraging activities with the result that they can breed at a faster pace. & Martin. Contrary to what was believed. altricial (relatively helpless) infants.15–16). but it is in mammals and particularly primates that comparisons with humans are meaningful. 2005. Renner. but recent modeling suggests that this condition was met during the course of human evolution (Ga ¨ chter. 2006. First. 2009 p. In humans. Cultural values among hunter gatherer groups also stress the importance of sharing foods and socially imposed monogamy. Hamilton was also the ﬁrst to predict that cooperative breading would be associated with slow maturing. alloparental care allowed humans to provide the support to feed the large brain that consumes half of all metabolic needs in infancy. p. has recently provided robust empirical data that supports the importance of group selection on the evolution of altruism and cooperation in humans (Bowles. Successful groups will also reap the beneﬁts of colonizing the territories of their adversaries. Of the 175 or so primate species. Only the members of the subfamily Callitrichidae and humans are full-ﬂedged cooperative breeders combining substantial alloparenting and provisioning (Hrdy. & Sigmund. as predicted by Hamilton’s theory of inclusive ﬁtness. altricial infants. Cooperative breeding was ﬁrst studied in social insects and birds. from the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. 1999). but most alloparenting is done by closely related kin. 2006). 2009). Bowles. and occasionally even murder (Boehm. long childhoods and bigger brains go together. What is even more interesting is that we are the . It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Other Evolutionary Adaptations That Made Humans an Ultra-cooperative and Altruistic Type of Primate Cooperative breeding refers to an evolutionary strategy in which the biological mother (occasionally the father too) are assisted by other members of the group (“alloparents”) in the care of their offspring. 275). there must be frequent contests among groups. many nomadic hunter gatherer groups are not so peaceful. there must be a system of sanctions and punishment that spread the high costs of the enforcement of prosocial values (altruism. But once in place. and battles between groups have a high incidence of mortality because of the nature of hand-to-hand combat. thus reducing the ﬁtness differences within groups (that otherwise will strongly favor selﬁsh individuals). 2007). 2008). Second.420 CORTINA AND LIOTTI Empirical Support for Group Selection Samuel Bowles. guilt and ostracism. Two conditions that mathematical modeling indicate would be necessary for group selection to prevail are present in human hunter gatherer societies. Hunter gatherer groups perform this function efﬁciently by the use of “leveling mechanisms” that function as a “social tax” and permit the high costs of enforcing altruistic norms (and punishments for violators of these norms) to be spread though the group as a whole. 2005). Group sanctions against free loaders to become effective require a long time to become institutionalized. It requires 13 million calories to raise a human infant to the stage where they are nutritionally independent (Hrdy. Nowak. Brandt. life history strategies might also play a major role. a prediction that has proven to be roughly correct (Hrdy. these sanctions become voluntarily accepted and do not have to be compulsorily imposed (Hauert. An alloparent can be any member of a group. cooperation) to the group as a whole. Traulsen. As we noted earlier. This leveling function is accomplished through shared cultural norms or values (an egalitarian ethos) enforced through shame. 2005) and in only one ﬁfth of primate species is alloparenting accompanied by provisioning (feeding) the young. only half provide some type rudimentary biparental care where mother and father do the protecting (Hrdy. According to Hrdy.
In contrast. when . 2009). This was particularly noteworthy because food was built into one of the tasks and chimpanzees are notoriously driven to obtain food. Hrdy believes that for the combination of bigger brains. The other important feature of the experiment was that the adult partners would quit these tasks at a certain point and wait until their partner signaled a willingness to continue the activity. Hrdy. Humans took delight in the social games. 2007. It was probably the combination of several evolutionary strategies working together (life history strategies. A transition—via group selection—to societies composed of groups of highly cooperative and egalitarian hunter gatherers was also essential. We agree. Other species with smaller brains can be cooperative breeders. However. 2009). To counter this critique we have pointed to the population structure (in-group cooperation out-group competition) and evolutionary mechanisms that support this hypothesis. and do not allow others to take care of their infant. 1999). 2006. In the ﬁrst study Warneken and Tomasello (2006) presented 18. two that were instrumental in nature and had concrete goals and two social games in which there was no speciﬁc goal except for cooperating for the sake of keeping a social game going—like bouncing a ball together and catching it with a can. Among many interesting ﬁndings. other females might kill the infant and the mother. There are very good reasons for this. 1999. Chimpanzees were able to coordinate their behavior with a human partner in order to succeed in the task. In the social games there was a marked difference between the species. In some groups. if the mother and the infant are unfamiliar to the group. But to carry weight converging evidence from other ﬁelds is needed. chimpanzees did not try to reengage the human partner in any of the four tasks. The fact is that infanticide is a very frequent cause of infant mortality in many species of primates (Cheney & Seyfarth. 2008. Other males who might want to mate with the mother often resort to infanticide to restore the mother’s reproductive capacity inhibited by lactation. Experiments Comparing Chimpanzees With Human Children in Their Abilities to Cooperate and Share in Role-Playing Activities Many might treat the hypothesis of cooperative origins of mindreading abilities based on group selection and the signiﬁcance of alloparenting as another example of a “just so” story. whereas chimpanzees did not engage at all.to 24-month-old human infants and three humanraised chimpanzees with four experimental tasks. Bowles. When the adult partner stopped the instrumental tasks or the social games. 2009) that support the claim than humans are a hypercooperative type of primate. mindreading abilities. human infants tried to reengage the adult. Other apes. and even made the instrumental task into a game. In the instrumental tasks the human infants and the chimpanzees did equally well. cooperative breeding would have had to come ﬁrst. We now turn to three articles comparing human children with chimpanzees in a variety of cooperative tasks (for review see Tomasello. group selection. as well as evidence from contemporary hunter gatherer groups that is consistent with it (Bowles.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 421 only members of the Great Ape family who are cooperative breeders (Hrdy. like chimpanzee mothers. The second study had a longitudinal design and involved three human raised chimpanzees (Tomasello & Carpenter. the authors showed that chimpanzees were equally adept as human infants in understanding goals and perceptions in simple cooperative tasks that involved exchanging roles. kin selection and cooperative breeding) that led to human ultracooperative. but would add that cooperative breeding was not the only or even the most important evolutionary strategy that led to this complex set of traits. are extremely possessive. 2005). prolonged childhoods and mindreading abilities to have emerged.
as when mothers take care of their infants— but they do understand competitive situations and are very motivated to respond in these situations. even when the task involves a reward that they are motivated to reach such as food. Amazingly. The experiment consists in the helper peeking while the food is being hidden—the ape can see that the human helper is peeking. & Liszkowski. or complementary social roles. The second important difference has to do with social– cognitive abilities. Without looking at the chimpanzee. The ﬁrst difference has to do with motivation. The overall pattern suggests a qualitative difference in cooperation and social understanding between the two species. the human cannot quite reach the bucket that has the food. Human children are not only motivated to reach goals. Carpenter. such as careseeking– caregiving. The only possible inference from this experiment is that in the helping situation chimpanzees do not understand that the human is communicating with an altruistic motive. come– go. assists the ape to ﬁnd the food. Carpenter. 2006). victim–persecutor—an ability that implies the emergence of a reciprocal type of imitation. buy–sell. For example. A second human. & Tomasello. This suggests that the ability to engage in the pursuit of joint goals is absent in chimpanzees. but in the competitive situation they immediately grasp what is going on (Tomasello. whereas chimpanzees do not. Chimpanzees are only interested in reaching a goal that is self-serving as we saw in the last example. 2007). 2003. but the thwarted effort of an arm trying to reach for the bucket containing the food clearly shows what the human is up to. In this situation the ape will immediately reach toward the bucket with the food when the buckets are pushed toward the chimpanzee. The helper then points toward the bucket where the food is hidden. children understand there is a joint goal involved in all these tasks. In the ﬁrst example. as long as they are raised by humans as was this case—see below. Why do apes not reach toward the bucket in the cooperative/helping situation. chase– ﬂee. Hare and Tomasello (2004) introduced apes to a game in which a human hides food in one of three buckets. the human competitor reaches toward the bucket containing the food in each try. yet immediately reach to the bucket in the competitive situation? It is not that chimpanzees do not understand pointing gestures. Chimpanzees lack the ability for reciprocal role imitation and cannot exchange complementary roles. who acts as a helper. Call & Tomasello. They don’t seem to understand that the human helper is pointing to the food. whereas chimpanzees simply repeated the same task with no reference to the human partner. As can be inferred from the second study. After several rounds of this warm up. It is not in their nature to understand altruistic helping— except among closely related kin. borrow–lend. but this time a competitive version is introduced in which in a warm up trial another human begins to compete with a chimpanzee for food in the bucket. Several experiments have also shown that apes understand the intentions of others in a variety of situations (Buttelman. apes chose randomly. but they are also motivated to cooperate for the sake of cooperation. student–teacher. Because the hole is not big enough. Humans’ joint intentional and attentional abilities allow them to exchange complementary roles.422 CORTINA AND LIOTTI humans forced a complementary role exchange on the human infants and the chimpanzees. The game is then modiﬁed. Apes know from experience that there is only one bucket that contains food and they have only one chance in picking the right bucket. Call. a Plexiglas is put between the human that is competing for the food and the buckets. The third article is very revealing in another way. 2007. chimpanzees lack abilities for a reciprocal form of imitation that would allow them to . When this joint goal is breached (by stopping the activity) human infants try to reengage their partners. human infants were able to exchange roles. Warneken & Tomasello.
the affective core of intersubjectivity provides a sense of continuity that bridges the dramatic changes in social cognition that take place between the ﬁrst and second year of life. Not only is there a correspondence of gestures and vocalizations. The intricacy and subtlety of these “protoconversations” have all the hallmarks of a well orchestrated dance. 2004). form and intensity (all integrated cross-modally) by their caregivers (for review see Beebe. 1985. 1992). there are minor cycles of disruption and repair even with parents that are sensitively responsive and attuned to their babies’ communications (Beebe & Lachmann. Rustin. and the shared world This correspondence in gestures and emotions is likely rooted neurobiologically in a mirror neuron system (Gallese. Several functions have been attributed to CDS.3 Most likely. 2005. 1962).ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 423 exchange complementary roles. Cooper. 2004 and Hobson (2004) have emphasized the affective core of intersubjectivity. social understanding is primarily adapted to situations that involve competitive interactions. 1988). 2003. The “marked” emotional tone of these interactions may help babies differentiate their emotional responses from their caregivers exaggerated responses during these protoconversations. The Ontogenetic Roots of Intersubjective Sharing and Cooperation in Humans Primary Intersubjectivity Another body of evidence that supports the hypothesis of the cooperative origins of mindreading abilities is based on infant research. capturing babies’ attention and soothing children’s distress (Sroufe. This match. a high pitched voice and exaggerated gestures. During the course of the ﬁrst year of life. 1995. parent-infant dyads respond to each others’ nonverbal cues. This form of speech. 1972). 3 . such as facilitating language development (Snow. 1992). By the end of the ﬁrst year and rapidly accelerating during the second year. 1980. a phenomena described as social referencing (Emde. 1978). Chimpanzees simply “don’t get it” when they are called upon to interact for the sake of sharing experience or helping others in situations that call for a type of altruism and cooperation that seems to be uniquely human. (2002). 2002). Trevarthen & Hubley. caregivers’ responses to infants’ cues and vocalizations use a simpliﬁed and redundant grammar. infants use mothers’ emotional responses to assess how they should react to unfamiliar situations. Even at its best. “motherese” or child-directed speech (CDS). Stern (1985. sharing and companionship (Trevarthen. is not an exact mirroring response. Infant cues are matched in timing. that Stern calls “affect attunement” concerns how inner feeling states are shared (Stern. seems to be universal (Ferguson. you. however. Colwyn Trevarthen is a pioneer in tracking the development of intersubjective cooperation. This emotional correspondence. but despite their remarkable social abilities. vocalizations. 2006). Trevarthen & Aitken. & Sorter. 2003). Stern. while the turn-taking abilities may have their roots in the presence of adaptive oscillators (Port & van Gelder. 1994. 1979. In addition. Chimpanzees are goal oriented and they do understand intentions. 1988. & DeHart. emotional communication. Emotions play an essential role in the emergence of primary and secondary forms of intersubjective sharing—me. Knoblauch. Another possible function of CDS has been suggested by Fonagy et al. but there is also an affective interchange that operates across different perceptual and expressive modalities. describing primary and secondary forms (Trevarthen. 2009). gestures and emotions.
Secondary Intersubjectivity: Why Pointing Matters There is a scientiﬁc consensus that between 9 to 12 months of age there is a revolution in human development that corresponds roughly to Trevarthen’s description of a secondary form of intersubjectivity (Trevarthen. The ability to understand the intentions of others is a necessary step for declarative pointing to emerge. This type of imperative pointing can also be seen among nonhuman primates that have been raised in captivity or raised by humans. 2004). The second type of pointing. 2005). 1978). which is declarative and triadic in nature. 1996. 2007. Infants use imperative pointing instrumentally to obtain objects from adults. 1952). 1988. A very illuminating way to grasp what the revolution is all about is by examining the seemingly simple and humble gesture of pointing. By the time infants are 18 months old. Declarative pointing is emblematic of a new form of mutuality that develops during the second year of life. 2007) and the related ability to identify with the intentions of others (Hobson. 1995. 2003). and pointing that is a request to attend to some external object “look at that ﬂower mom” (declarative pointing). Moll . At its simplest. once infants have developed the capacity to understand goal-directed behaviors and discover that goals can be reached through different means (Piaget. 2005). Jerome Bruner (1977) was the ﬁrst to note that this type of declarative pointing joins infant and parent in a meaningful social exchange that is motivated by a desire to share attention toward an object with an adult. 2005: Hobson. a shared form of intentionality and role reversal imitation set the stage for collaborating in joint plans and shared goals. 2004). 2005. Bates. It is no exaggeration to say that infants begin to see the world from the emotional perspective of their primary caregivers (Hobson. but it has only been observed once in the wild (Call & Tomasello. Infants begin to explore the world with others. The Emergence of Perspective Taking Abilities The ability to share intentional states with others has another fundamental consequence by creating the possibility to take on the perspective of others (Barresi & Moore. Camaioni. or in tasks like picking up toys together (Moll & Tomasello. The emergence of a role-reversal form of imitation (Meltzoff. 2004) during the second year of life also allows infants to engage in games that involve reciprocal roles. The ﬁrst type of pointing develops toward the end of the ﬁrst year of life. 2005). Declarative pointing is brought about by new abilities: the capacity to maintain a joint attention toward objects of interest. and Volterra’s (1975) classic article set the stage for all subsequent literature on the signiﬁcance of pointing as a “tool” and as a prelinguistic form of communication. but soon expands to other behaviors. such as building a tower with blocks. taking turns in feeding. or more complex games like peek-a-boo. Tomasello & Carpenter.. such as holding objects up to show them to others and bringing others to locations so they can observe interesting things (Trevarthen. But infants’ ability to follow adults gaze or point to a target does not necessarily imply that the infants understand that others have intentions similar to their own. Trevarthen & Hubley. involves infants sharing events or objects of interest with caregivers. 1980. (Tomasello & Carpenter. by the emergence of a bidirectional understanding of goals and intentions between infants and caregivers.424 CORTINA AND LIOTTI that is being explored. such as taking turns rolling a ball back and forth with an adult. a “we” form of intentionality (Searle. Elizabeth Bates and her coworkers made the distinction between a pointing that is a request from the infant to obtain an object from an adult: “give me the toy mommy’” (imperative pointing). Tomasello et al. joint attention can be seen when infants begin to follow the gaze of others.
The Emergence of Intersubjective Motives The early signs of sociability are ushered in by the emergence of the social smile that appears 4 or 5 weeks after birth and progressively becomes more prevalent and differentiated in the following months (Sroufe. this collapse of the intersubjective third leads into a “doer/done to” dynamic and according to Liotti the collapse of metarepresentational abilities leads to multiple and fragmented representations of self and other induced by trauma and a history of disorganized attachment (Liotti. 2003. The social smile powerfully promotes affective sharing between infants and caregivers and unequivocally shows that infants come equipped to engage socially with others soon after birth. With language humans can imagine how others might feel or think from many more perspectives. Trevarthen (1988. The communicative system has built into it a motivational component. or a third-person perspective (“its all about the other”). Most adults ﬁnd these smiles. Unfortunately we will have to leave further exploration of these important clinical issues for another occasion. and continues to develop throughout life. By second to third month of age the emotion that accompanies the social smile is also transformed from expressions of pleasure to categorical expressions of joy (Sroufe. 2005) . According to Benjamin (2004). 2008). As Moll and Tomasello (2007) point out. First. 2007). 2004: Aron. but by the fourth week of life the smile is released by seeing a human face or the gestalt of the human face. by 18 months infants begin to develop the capacity to see the same thing from their own point of view and the point of view of others. In keeping with Stern. giggles and babbling endearing and irresistible. 1996). the social smile is indiscriminate. we think that this form of engagement ushered in by the social smile is part and parcel of a larger system of intersubjective communication that is present soon after birth. At ﬁrst. and how language expands the perspective taking abilities by leaps and bounds is still virgin territory and an area of study that is ripe for further exploration (Farrant. the smile is released by high arousal states such as REM dreaming states. This hypothesis connects with ideas put forward by Jessica Benjamin of an “intersubjective third” (Benjamin. & Maybery.to18-month-old infants to assume the role of others in social games and to coordinate activities and develop joint plans of action. 2006). Barresi and Moore (1996) believe that the ability to have a “bird’s eye view” of ﬁrst and third person perspectives implies a representational capacity to view self and others perspectives simultaneously. In contrast to attachment behaviors that are powerfully directed at one or two attachment ﬁgures. 2006. 1996). shared intentionality and perspective taking abilities take another giant step forward. Infants will smile to anybody who smiles at them. This is already implicit in the ability of 14. Fletcher. A collapse of the ability to maintain simultaneously the representation of self and other causes a reversion to a position where one can only see interpersonal exchanges from a ﬁrst person perspective (“its all about me”). large and small. We can “time travel” and imagine what it might have been to live in the past and imagine worlds that might not even exist. 2004). Tomasello. Hobson. We can create narratives that include different cultural perspectives. 1992. Examining how intersubjective sharing and a shared form of intentionality create a common ground upon which language will ﬂourish. a desire to share feelings and by the end of the second year of life a desire to share in more complex interactions such as social games and high levels of collaboration required to construct joint projects. by the end of the ﬁrst year of life (“only you can comfort me”). 2004.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 425 & Tomasello. As language takes off in earnest by the second year of life.
are all dependent on preprogrammed information that is fed into the system. From an engineering perspective. However appealing. . social systems such as attachment. segregated modular systems have the great advantage of making it less likely that their activation will interfere with other important functions that are essential for overall functioning. developing sexual partnerships (the sexual system).426 CORTINA AND LIOTTI and Tomasello (Tomasello. and having privileged access to resources by establishing dominance over others (the ranking system). Living organisms are the product of selective and evolutionary mechanisms and have conserved solutions that have worked well over the course of millions of years. competition or sexual pair bonding have “modular” characteristics in that they serve discrete needs and show signs of specialization and have their own neural circuitry. Modules are brain functions that evolved to solve speciﬁc adaptation problems and are segregated from other brain functions. sexuality. 2007b. some of these evolutionary and developmental solutions can be assembled as independent modules 4 This analysis could also be extended to examine the relation between intersubjective abilities and motives and other basic interpersonal motives associated with the caregiving. In the parlance of contemporary evolutionary psychology attachment. 1994) and evolutionary psychology (Cosmides & Tooby. 2005) have proposed similar ideas. and competition are domain speciﬁc adaptations. Intersubjective Abilities and Motives Are Domain General Adaptations The attachment system is one of several functionally discrete interpersonal motivational systems observed in primates that serve vital adaptive functions such as providing intensive parental care (the caregiving system). Along very similar lines Tomasello (2005) has argued that a motivation to share intentions and psychological states goes hand in hand with the enormous capacity for cooperation that is the hallmark of our species and the basis for acquiring language and for cultural evolution (Hobson. ranking and sexual pair-bonding systems. but such an exploration is beyond the scope of this article (see Cortina & Liotti. 2003. In contrast to these more discrete functions. 2007a. Tomasello. From this point of view. 1999. Liotti & Monticelli. 1997) use the concept of modularity to refer to these domain-speciﬁc adaptations. caregiving. no matter how sophisticated or complex. caregiving. the main function of intersubjective mindreading abilities is to provide an automatic and emotionally intuitive system of communication among conspeciﬁcs.4 Three Differences Between Attachment and Intersubjectivity Attachment Is a Domain Speciﬁc Adaptation. As Lyons-Ruth (2006) notes. Tomasello & Carpenter. whereas intersubjective mindreading abilities and intersubjective sharing motives are domain-general adaptations. 2004. intersubjective abilities and motives permeate all other motivational systems. including the attachment system. 2008. the modular view based on engineering principles can be misleading when applied to complex organisms. 2005). Engineering systems. Trevarthen has insisted on motives for cooperation and companionship that are the key to the acquisition of culture and emotional expressiveness (Trevarthen. In simple organisms. Cognitive psychology (Fodor. The evolutionary and developmental framework that we have discussed allows us to return to a further examination of the differences between intersubjective abilities and motives and the attachment system. 2008). 2008). This does not mean we are committed to a modular point of view.
The next level. 2002). Westen. A similar model has been proposed by Edelman (1987. 2002.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 427 with little need of overall coordination. the type of massive modularity evolutionary psychologists such as Cosmides and Tooby advocate seems too simplistic and cumbersome—more than 30 modules have been proposed (Buller. the neocortex or neomammalian brain. we are in agreement with Karmiloff-Smith that domain speciﬁc or domain general functions must be understood within an epigenetic perspective. Jackson. and temporal lobe cortex that regulate emotions and all systems of social interaction. 2005). Chaminade. in which there are ongoing interactions with the environment at every level of the organism (Gotlieb. It is the case that if we examine adult brains. From this point of view we propose that advanced intersubjective cooperative and mindreading abilities can be understood as domain general functions that are characteristic of a species such as ours with slow maturing individuals with a very prolonged development that promotes developmental plasticity and adaptive ﬂexibility (Bjorklund & Rosenberg. is found in the brain of higher mammals and is responsible for 5 This division of the brain is only a rough approximation. Advanced Intersubjective Abilities Are Evolutionarily Newer Adaptations With Respect to Attachment MacLean’s model of the triune brain (1985) is a dated but still useful model that depicts the hierarchical organization of the brain and helps situate attachment and intersubjectivity as belonging to different levels of organization. 2004. 1989) with his concept of values that are built into the brain (such as affective responses) and help organize the emerging complexity of the brain. . The last level. Lately. 1994). 1997. and contemporary neuroimaging data show that the orbitofrontal cortex is in fact an integral part of the “limbic brain” in humans (Decety. and the cerebellum. 1997. 2005). This has misled many to think that this specialization is a feature of the innate modularity of the brain. this quick and dirty way of looking at the hierarchical organization of the brain is a useful heuristic. The oldest brain (the R Complex) evolved among reptiles and amphibians and contains anatomical structures such as the brain stem. The functions of the R complex include regulation of essential physiological functions and primitive instincts that involve minimal social interaction such primitive types of sexuality and ﬁght/ﬂight/freezing reactions. the midbrain or mammalian brain. In short. Shore. the hypothalamus. 1999).5 MacLaen organizes the brain in three levels. Karmiloff-Smith had been calling for an approach that recognizes the presence of innate biases or proclivities that interact with the environment at every level of the organism. But in complex animals like primates. there are clear signs of specialization. Karmiloff-Smith (1992) has made the very cogent point that the specialization in the brain may be an emergent phenomena rather than an example of innate modularity. Sommerville. the basal nuclei. A commitment to a modular brain with a multitude of specialized functions misses the point that perhaps the most important characteristic of our species is its enormous potential for developmental plasticity and adaptive ﬂexibility. The specialization is the result of a general developmental process that proceeds from relative undifferentiation to greater degrees of differentiation and specializations of functions. This plasticity is typical of “generalist” species in which selective pressures produced a brain in which conspeciﬁcs can learn consciously and deliberately from each other and can adapt to changing local environments (Gotlieb. contains structures such as the amygdala. & Meltzoff. Nonetheless.
the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). More advanced domain-general intersubjective motives and abilities (shared intentionality. In our way 6 In principle. Treyer.428 CORTINA AND LIOTTI higher-order thinking skills and language. The reverse is not necessarily the case. 2004. Pascual-Leone. In a recent study the research team disrupted an area of the prefrontal cortex. This indicates that interference with right brain DLFPC function interferes with maintaining a sense of reciprocal fairness and mutuality that is required in order to cooperate at higher levels. The disruption of the right DLPFC reduced subjects’ willingness to reject their partners’ unfair offers. the local stimulation of the DLPFC temporarily disrupted the ability to engage in fair play. The study of the interactions between intersubjectivity and these other interpersonal motivations are therefore less relevant for an understanding of the early reciprocal inﬂuences (particularly during the second year of life) between attachment and intersubjectivity. will quickly and necessarily inﬂuence higher-order motivational processes and advanced intersubjective abilities such as sharing and cooperation. such as the attachment system. The other interpersonal motivations we just mentioned require more prolonged maturational processes and experience and become fully operative only later in life. & Fehr. will have an immediate effect on a higher-order social system. As we noted earlier examples of the ﬁrst situation—signiﬁcant dysfunction of a lower-level social system.7 The developmental principle that we support is that adverse inﬂuences and disruptions of evolutionary lower-order interpersonal systems. The stimulation of the left DLPFC did not have the same effect. . such as intersubjective understanding— have been well documented. only three interpersonal systems are fully operational: the attachment system. 7 Neuroimaging data support the view that neocortical structures. one could hypothesize that bottom-up inﬂuences stemming from right brain limbic structures that are part of the attachment system (Shore. thought to be involved in judgments of fairness (Knoch. As we noted before. 2006) in individuals playing the Ultimatum Game. such as intersubjective sharing and cooperation. we should expect in the infant and the growing child differential effects on each of these systems as a consequence of bidirectional inﬂuences on the other. mentalizing functions) are part of the neomammalian brain. the Ultimatum Game requires that individuals make a judgment of whether their partners are proposing fair offers. intersubjective sharing. the sexual mating system and social interactions based on competition with siblings and peers. Adverse inﬂuences and disruptions of evolutionary higher-order abilities and motives. the same type of reasoning can be applied to the relations between intersubjectivity and other nonattachment-related (domain-speciﬁc) interpersonal motivational systems such as the caregiving system. Fonagy et al. Meyer. even though they still judged the offers as unfair. 1994) are emotionally more immediate than advanced top down intersubjective abilities such as intersubjective sharing. cooperation and perspective taking that involve neocortical structures. If advanced forms of intersubjectivity that are uniquely human operate at a different hierarchical level of mental functioning than attachment. become activated when individuals are involved in interchanges that call for advanced forms of cooperation that require judgments in regard to reciprocal fairness. will not necessarily impede the function of more basic interpersonal systems such as the attachment system even though these disruptions will produce atypical attachment patterns. such as attachment. Fonagy and his colleagues have shown that the ability to mentalize (a higher-order function) attachment related experiences is signiﬁcantly affected by attachment related trauma (Bateman & Fonagy. During the second year of life. 2002).6 In a hierarchical system such as the one we are hypothesizing for the organization of human interpersonal motives.. and the emerging capacity to cooperate extensively with others by taking into account their perspective and to some extent the ranking system as expressed in sibling rivalry. That is. such as the prefrontal cortex. The disruption of the DLPFC was achieved by local low-frequency repetitive transcranial stimulation.
that parental sensitivity affected the quality of the attachment relation with mentally retarded and typical developing children. but not in a neutral scenario (Bed Time). producing a collapse of advanced intersubjective abilities and further fragmentation (Liotti et al. The problem with satisfying her normal wishes for attachment was her inability to cope with overwhelming feelings of unpredictability and uncontrollability generated during interpersonal exchanges. and her feelings of comfort while she was in the caregiver’s arms (Sacks.. Many autistic individuals with severe intersubjective deﬁcits can maintain an attachment to important people in their lives. New stressful situations or trauma activate the attachment system. Abrams. The deﬁcit in intersubjectivity inﬂuenced attachment (and all types of interpersonal behaviors) in later phases of the development of the disorder. these patterns were unrelated to parental sensitivity. The fact remains that the attachment system is still operational in autistic individuals. 2007). A high functioning autistic person. While there were more atypical and insecure attachment patterns with autistic children. A recent article experimentally tested this hypothesis comparing autistic children with matched control groups of mentally retarded.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 429 of putting it. albeit a very atypical attachment (Stern. and intentions. 2003). 1992). language-delayed. as predicted. 2005). 1995). Leideken. These deﬁcits are not the consequence of parental insensitivity or frightened and/or frightening caregiver’s responses to her attachment needs. 2008). 2008). they become a necessary condition for the smooth exercise of all other interpersonal motivational systems. reports memories suggesting normal wishes for attachment interactions when she was a child (Grandin. even though its quality is signiﬁcantly disturbed.. abilities that go hand in hand with higher degrees of mentalization (Hill et al. Temple Grandin. in 5-year old children. but had no discernable effect on autistic children. The clear inference is that the insecure and atypical attachment patterns of autistic children are not caused by parent– child attachment difﬁculties. with indices of low mentalizing in an emotionally laden dolls’ house scenario (Bad and Nasty Time). Autism is an example of the second situation—adverse inﬂuences or disruptions of higher order intersubjective functions will not necessarily disrupt lower-order functions.. & Sharp (2008) observe that insecure attachment at 18 months was associated. This ﬁnding suggests that the activation of insecure or traumatic internal working models of attachment. In a conversation with Oliver Sacks she discussed her memories of longing to be soothed by a caregiver’s hug. For instance Hill. emotions. they are the result of her difﬁculty in the intersubjective sharing and understanding of motives. but are caused by the intersubjec- . as evidenced by the ability of children to reengage in intersubjective sharing through reciprocal imitation and pretend play. Main. The results show unequivocally. & Rifkin. adversely inﬂuence one of the crucial aspects of intersubjectivity. individuals with a history of disorganized attachment construct poorly integrated internal working models of self and others. 2004). As intersubjective abilities become increasingly integrated with the attachment system during the course of normal development. When the attachment system is not chronically aroused the capacity for collaboration emerges. namely. the ability to maintain a good understanding of intentions and emotions of others (mentalizing abilities). Rather. and the activation of strong emotion linked to separation anxiety. and normally developing children (van IJzendoorn et al. such as the ability to cooperate and compete successfully with peers and siblings (Sroufe et al.. as would have been true of a child disorganized in her attachment (Hesse.
and will fade in and out of conscious awareness. the rules of activation and deactivation are clearly deﬁned and speciﬁc.430 CORTINA AND LIOTTI tive deﬁcits of autistic children—their inability to correctly read and interpret the emotions and communications of their parents. attachment and competition are normally active. intersubjective sharing and cooperation are “tonically” active—it may change in its motivational intensity. In the absence of more empirical research on the reciprocal inﬂuences (positive and negative) between attachment and intersubjectivity. but never disappears totally from the mental activity that is the basis of human higher-order consciousness (Edelman. but will assert itself vigorously as soon as the emergency is over. sports and scientiﬁc endeavors. Indeed. these examples may provide illustrations of the principle of hierarchical organization of motivational systems and intersubjective abilities. Intersubjectivity Is Activated Tonically. always “tonically” present. a rule of activation and a rule of termination. so to speak. The sharing and cooperative motives in humans remain tonically active in most circumstances. Sharing experience with others and being able to examine experience from multiple perspectives is the normal default system in humans. This intersubjective motive and ability for mutual perspective taking might collapse temporarily under strain. fear. Even when we are alone. domain-speciﬁc interpersonal motivations are “phasically” active. this is not so clear with intersubjective motives that are better seen as general-purpose default systems that remain tonically active. that intersubjective abilities and motives to share and cooperate with others are seriously compromised or limited. it is possible to specify the rule of activity and the rule of termination of every interpersonal motivation system. vulnerability or loneliness. a set of rules have to be consensually agreed upon and reciprocally enforced before school-age children can participate in games with peers such as playing marbles. It is only in pathological conditions such as autism. Even in highly competitive activities like games. or where there is a history of attachment trauma. or ranking systems. When we become conscious of anything. Like the tone in a living muscle. caregiving. every single perception that emerges in higher-order consciousness becomes conscious from the perspective of being potentially communicable to another human being (Barlow. Any conscious activity that takes place in phases has a beginning and an end. as Piaget (1965) showed in his classic book on the origins of morality in children. They work in phases. Furthermore. 1980). in a manner that is similar to the speciﬁc sequences of muscle contractions and relaxation that are coordinated to attain speciﬁc goals. As long as there is higher-order consciousness there are advanced forms of intersubjectivity that involve sharing of experience from multiple perspectives through gestures or language (Cortina & Liotti. while a tonic activity is. we are (even if only latently) prone to communicate it to somebody else. The cooperative motive to help others and engage in human communication through gestures and language is also a pervasive state of being. a cooperative infrastructure undergirds many competitive activities. In contrast. Activation of the attachment system coincides with perceived distress. In domain-speciﬁc adaptations such as the interpersonal motives of attachment. 1989). but despite what Stern (2004) asserts. in press). Attachment Is Activated in Phases A metaphor from the physiology of muscle activity captures another important difference between intersubjectivity and attachment. even when the domain speciﬁc motivation such as sexuality. while termination coincides with attaining protective proximity .
and the Therapeutic Alliance Perhaps the single most important clinical application of being able to distinguish the different prosocial functions and motives associated with attachment and intersubjectivity is that it provides a good theoretical model that helps us think about establishing a therapeutic alliance during the course of psychotherapy. the triggers that activate competitive struggles and desire for dominance over others in humans are much more complex and less ritualistic. Among primates. Intersubjectivity. One only has to read Franz de Waal’s description of power politics among the apes (de Waal. 1912). Feeling understood and being able to take a different perspective on emotional problems are mentalizing/ intersubjective functions. Needless to say. it has been widely accepted by psychodynamic therapists of all stripes that development of an “unobjectionable” positive transference is one of the most important leverages that help push the therapeutic tasks forward (Freud. the better the outcome. The caregiving system is activated by signals of vulnerability. and feels safe with the therapist. danger or distress in juvenile members of the social group with whom an attachment relationship has been established.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 431 of an attachment ﬁgure and/or with perceived safety. Numerous studies have pointed out that the single most important factor predicting the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Humans have created competitive games and contests that are governed by rules of fair play and reciprocity. Of course. Contests can range from being very playful to being ﬁercely contested. The more a patient feels understood. Garske. 2000). but a positive transference. but we can still see the clear evidence of this ancient motivational system in the case of bullies. as is the case in many individual and team sports. the ranking system is activated by threats of losing rank (and hence losing control of environmental resources and/or preferential access to mating partners) and is terminated by signals of yielding or submission (Gilbert. These are some of the important differences. regardless of the type of psychotherapy that is practiced. outcomes are dependent on many other variables. Feeling that one’s therapist is a reasonably protective and trustworthy ﬁgure is an attachment related function. Freud was also the ﬁrst to recognize that establishing a positive transference— based on parental imagoes stemming from childhood. in sadomasochistic phenomena and in political struggles over power. makes getting to any destination a much easier task. Ever since Freud wrote his papers on technique almost 100 years ago. 2001. what we now describe as positive attachment experiences—was one of the keys for a successful analysis. is the quality of the patient– therapist relation (Hovarth. The caregiving system’s stopping rule coincides with the successful soothing of the other’s distress. feels that the therapist is able to read his or her signals and communications. Even to the end of his career. & Davis. but there are explicit rules and sanctions that prevent competition from becoming violent. Some Clinical Implications Attachment. in one of the most sober assessments of the limits of psychoanalysis (Analysis Terminable or Interminable) he continued to believe in the . 1982) along with Machiavelli’s The Prince to realize how little has changed in the quest for rank and power among human and nonhuman apes. 1989). The sexual system— activated by proper secretion of sexual hormones and pheromones in interplay with sexually arousing stimuli of potential mates—is usually terminated by orgasm. Martin. like smooth sailing. These qualities are all dependant on intersubjective and attachment functions.
(2008) have described the same phenomena as the collapse of intersubjective abilities. have intense. 2008. Slade. 2004. But what happens when these positive attachment experiences from childhood are not present or when these attachment experiences have been traumatic? Many changes in technique in psychoanalysis came about in order to be able to work with patients who have unstable relations. and are in constant communication and consultation (Liotti et al. 1999). a group therapist. Attachment disorganization is characterized by interactions with care- . can lead to disorganization of early attachments. mutuality and reciprocity is built into human intersubjectivity based on these representational abilities. working toward reducing self-injurious and destructive behaviors by developing alternative selfsoothing techniques or any other therapeutic goals that can be agreed upon. extremely ambivalent relations to others and toward the therapist and have a history of traumatic or disrupted attachments. Another approach we have been experimenting with is having two therapists collaborate closely in different settings in order to decrease the likelihood that disruptions with one therapist will terminate the treatment by having a secondary therapist provide additional support. 2003). There is a consensus among attachment-informed therapists that this early activation of attachment in therapy should be avoided or side stepped to the extent possible until a base of cooperation and trust has been established that will allow for the gradual working through of these traumatic experiences (Bateman & Fonagy. it cues these traumatic memories and the result may be disorganized or dissociated responses. When the attachment relation is activated in the transference with this population... The second therapist can be a psychiatrist who medicates the patient and is versed in dealing with this type of patient. Clinical experience and a growing body of research (Bateman & Fonagy. 1937). namely a desire to collaborate with the therapist in order to reduce suffering (the cooperative motive) and a desire to share experience with others who are seen as being like me (Kohut’s mirroring and twinship selfobject needs). 2004) is showing these representational abilities can temporarily collapse under severe psychological strain—as when attachment trauma is activated (see below). The key to success is that both therapists share a common theory and approach to treating these challenging patients. Liotti et al. A high degree of cooperation. Holmes. These measures build a sense of trust and hope and create a reservoir of good will that we can draw from when the inevitable disruptions occur. that they respect each other’s work. 2001. If we are not in a position to establish a haven of safety and a secure base from which to explore because of a history of attachment trauma what can be done? We have other prosocial motivations to draw from that are not disorganizing. Liotti et al. Lessons Learned From Children Placed in Foster Care After Early Attachment Traumas It is now well known that early relational traumas such as those caused by frightened and/or frightening caregiving behavior (Hesse et al. We can build on collaborative sharing motives by establishing joint therapeutic tasks that are not threatening. are very impulsive. establishing clear. 2008). consistent and ﬂexible boundaries.. but this mutuality is fragile.432 CORTINA AND LIOTTI power of a positive transference (Freud. such as helping patients regulate intense affects by developing a better understanding of situations that might trigger disruptive emotions. a marital therapist or even another individual psychotherapist.
In these traumatized children. 2003). Fun is dangerous. 2007). 2004). is of an altogether different kind than observed in autistic children. LyonsRuth. the relative inhibition by the defensive activation of the caregiving or the ranking system may be overcome. at an implicit level of mental functioning.” The therapist thought that the little girl had felt particularly close to her foster parents during and after the positive intersubjective exchange. A few hours before.ATTACHMENT AND INTERSUBJECTIVITY 433 givers in which the child is likely to experience “fright without solution. Liotti. 2004. 2000. Liotti. vicarious activation of the caregiving system (inverted attachment) or of the ranking system with its punitive-dominant behavior (Liotti. have been provided by Hesse et al. 2003. In turn. When the conditions for the activation of the attachment system are sufﬁciently intense or prolonged.” This causes children (and also adults coming from histories of severe attachment disorganization) to tend to respond with anticipatory fear and/or dissociation whenever their attachment system becomes active (Hesse et al. Descriptions of the controlling-caregiving and controlling-punitive strategies employed by children who had been disorganized in their infant attachments. the child and her foster parents had enjoyed particularly happy exchanges. Clinicians treating children placed in foster care after repeated attachment injuries and severe abuse have noted extremely abnormal responses of these children when their attachment needs become active. (2003) and by Lyons-Ruth (2003). frightening dissociative experiences (Hesse. a London family therapist involved in the treatment of foster parents and children placed in their care after having been exposed to severe attachment traumas (Alec Clark. Liotti. Particularly severe early traumas and institutional deprivation of stable caregiving can yield not only disorganization of attachment.. 480 – 481)—seem the only solution these children can ﬁnd to avoid the repetition of fright and dissociation whenever the attachment system tends to become active. with its cohort of sometimes dramatic. 2000. Liotti. laughing together at the foster father’s funny stories of his years in college. this activation elicited. pp. and (b) abnormal expression of attachment needs. 1999. The disorganized representation of the attachment relation may then be activated. 8 . 1999. personal communication with Giovanni Liotti. her disorganized mental representations or internal working models (IWM) portraying memories of fright without solution. 2004. May 7. 2002). They were able to relax afterward in front of the TV screen before going to their bedrooms for the night. This foster child was able to explain her behavior during the interview: “I went into a panic last night because I thought we had been having fun. This closeness primed the activation of her attachment wishes—a likely event when a child feels alone at night-time. but also indiscriminately friendly behavior toward strangers (O’Connor. She intuited that there was a relationship between having had fun with her foster parents (positive intersubjective sharing) and expecting undeﬁned but catastrophically These vignettes are the courtesy of Alec Clark. Two clinical vignettes may illustrate the difference. 2003. These children also show deﬁcits in their capacity for joyful intersubjective exchanges. the dynamic relation between (a) poor intersubjective responses to opportunities for joyful intersubjective sharing. Controlling strategies—that inhibit the attachment system through the defensive.8 A preadolescent girl was interviewed together with her foster parents after a night when she trashed her room in an uncontrollable storm of fear and rage.
Understanding intentions. Concluding Remarks We have shown that while attachment and intersubjectivity are intimately related through development. Suddenly she said. . . The emergence of a hypercooperative form of sociability required more effective communication between group members. fear. ranking. B. but almost on a daily basis. Exploring the clinical implications of these views is new . but can interfere with all the interpersonal motives. such as observed in autism. had been removed from a chaotic abusive household 3 years before. In the course of regularly scheduled consultations. Domain-speciﬁc motivational systems (attachment. The following is an abstract from one of the foster-parent’s reports’: “B. I’m going to f* punch you . The little girl. (2) the difference between tonic and phasic forms of activation and rules of activation and deactivation and. owwwww . and despair such as the one reported. involve less intense emotions. These differences lead us to expect different types of consequences resulting from the dynamic interplay between the two systems. I’m hurt now and it’s your fault. started screaming as soon as I left the room. A better understanding of the intentions and motives of other members assisted in joint cooperative planning of hunting and gathering activities among nomadic groups during the course of human evolution. and sexual pairing systems) can generate powerful and intense emotions that can hinder positive intersubjective exchanges. ‘I love you. We use this evolutionary and developmental framework to further understand and reﬁne the differences between attachment and intersubjectivity based on three conceptual arguments: (1) the distinction between domain-speciﬁc and domain-general adaptations. and in return she loves me to do the same to her . I really do. this little girl switches unpredictably. a foster parent sends the therapist weekly reports on signiﬁcant exchanges between her and the six year old girl who has been placed in her care about one year before. motives and mental states of others takes place at an intersubjective level.’ I didn’t want to spoil the moment so I said nothing but gently cradled her like a baby. We argue that the most important evolutionary strategy driving human evolution was the emergence of cooperative groups that were able to share resources on an equal basis and therefore compete favorably with other groups (group selection). . This evolutionary strategy most likely coevolved with cooperative breeding and life history strategies as Hrdy has persuasively argued. It’s your fault I have hurt myself. This rich interpersonal and experiential matrix provides a fertile common ground upon which symbolic activities and language emerge. caregiving.. they can be distinguished on several evolutionary and developmental grounds. Here is the second vignette. ‘I f* hell hate you. . from joyful. (3) the different hierarchical levels involving intersubjective motives (sharing and cooperating) and attachment motives. so that her attachment system becomes active and B is overwhelmed with memories— expectations of pain and danger.434 CORTINA AND LIOTTI negative events (activation of the IWM of a traumatic attachment). The therapist’s formulation is that her foster parent’s offering of playful intersubjective exchanges accompanied by empathic attitudes (“I gently cradled her like a baby”) is weakening B’s controlling defenses.” A week later the foster-parent reported: “B. . playful exchanges with her foster parent to bouts of aggression.’” According to the therapist. Deﬁcits in positive intersubjective exchanges. . loves to do my hair and pretend to paint my nails. and drew the conclusion that fun is dangerous.
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