Separation-individuation refers to two overlapping developmental processes through which an individual achieves a sense of self that is distinct and unique from others and the ability to function as an autonomous individual. More specifically, separation refers to an intrapsychic process of boundary formation, in which a baby establishes himself or herself as separate from the mother. Individuation is the formation of psychic boundaries that allow an individual the capacity to form thoughts, ideas, and experience independently from the reality of another person—or, more simply, self-representations that are distinct from object representations. Separation-individuation starts from the premise that whereas physical birth is a dramatic event, psychological birth is slow and complex.

Separation-individuation as a concept emerged during the late 1950s and 1960s. For many years, it ...

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