Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis presents an inquiry into personality development, that is, it advances a theory of personality formation based on the symbiotic relationship between mother and child. It will show indications from the research of Rappoport, Ottinger and Simmons, and the writings of Mahler, that in the relationship between the infant and its mother, the infant at first thinks that the mother is an actual part of its own wholeness. Therefore, the theory will attempt to explain how a normal, a neurotic or a psychotic personality structure of later years can be traced back to the symbiotic phase of the infant's development. The symbiotic phase is considered by Mahler to terminate about thirty-six months after birth, but this theory will stress that the critical stage in personality development is reached somewhere before the first year of life is complete.