The body comes first. Embodied reparation and the co-creation of infant bodily-self.


0-3 Center for the at-Risk Infant, Scientific Institute IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini (Lecco), Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


During infancy relational experiences of body-to-body exchanges (i.e., embodied interactions) contribute to the infant's bodily perception. Early embodied interactions are based on countless multimodal reciprocal exchanges, in which mother and infant contribute to interpersonal rhythmic cycles of co-regulation (i.e., attunement). However, it remains unclear how infants and their mothers actually accomplish attunement in their exchanges. Interactions between mothers and their infants typically fluctuate between attuned and misattuned states and recovery attunement states by a process called 'reparation'. Here, we discuss recent neuroscientific evidence that provides insight into the mechanisms underpinning the concepts of attunement and misattunement in early embodied interactions. We propose that a process of embodied reparation might be achieved within the dyad through tactile contact behaviors (e.g., skin-to-skin, affectionate touch) and maternal interoceptive sensitivity (i.e., ability to perceive internal input about the state of one's own body). We describe how these elements that mothers provide during embodied interactions with their infants, might contribute not only to bodily attunement, but also to co-create the infant bodily-self.

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