Cover image for The primary triangle : a developmental systems view of mothers, fathers and infants
The primary triangle : a developmental systems view of mothers, fathers and infants
Fivaz-Depeursinge, Elisabeth.
Publication Information:
New York : BasicBooks ; London : Hi Marketing, 1999.
Physical Description:
xlvi, 208 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ755.85 .F583 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Integrating developmental and systems theories, the authors propose an original scenario by which to understand and treat the family unit. Under study here is the "primary triangle" of mother-father-infant. The authors provide a complex research paradigm for examining the interactional triangles formed in the family during the early years.

Author Notes

Elisabeth Fivaz-Depeursinge, Ph.D., is Professor of Clinical Ethology at the University of Lausanne Medical School, where she is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Family Studies
Antoinette Corboz-Warnery, M.D., is co-director of the Center for Family Studies at the University of Lausanne. She is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and family therapist

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Attempting a detailed explanation of how interactions move into three-way simultaneous relationships, Fivaz-Depeursinge and Corboz-Warnery develop a Lausanne triadic play design in order to explore how mothers, fathers, and infants develop interaction and identity as a family unit. Making a clear case for the uniqueness of their research, the authors create an outline of the steps they found necessary to an adequate study of the family as a three-way unit. Their methodology is clear, and their use of both clinical and nonclinical families enables them to categorize family units along four dimensions and to illustrate with clarity the various components that distinguish these family alliances. The authors conclude by showing the usefulness of their findings not only in understanding how families form ties but also in facilitating therapeutic interventions designed to help families create stronger, more efficient three-way bonds. The advanced research in this well-written book makes it most appropriate for professionals, graduate students, and (as a stretch) upper-level undergraduates. L. Wolfer; University of Scranton

Table of Contents

Daniel N. Stern
Forewordp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Introduction: How to Approach the Familyp. xix
Family Alliancesp. xx
The Family As the Unit of Researchp. xxiii
The Practicing Family in a Context of Changep. xxv
Triangulation As a Normative Processp. xxvii
Triangulation Development Between Infant and Parentsp. xxix
Exploration of Family Micropatternsp. xxxi
Datap. xxxiii
Conclusionsp. xxxiv
Notesp. xxxvi
Referencesp. x1
Chapter 1 The Lausanne Family Model: An Overviewp. 1
The Functional/Clinical Reading of Trilogue Play and the Typology of Family Alliancesp. 1
Structural Reading: Coconstructing a Triangular Frameworkp. 10
Process Reading: Coordinations, Miscoordinations, and Repairp. 16
Developmental Reading: Triangulation over the First Yearp. 21
The Reading of Observer-Family Working Alliances That Leads to Framing Interventionsp. 26
Referencesp. 30
Chapter 2 The Functional/Clinical Reading of Narratives That Results in a Typology of Alliancesp. 33
How to Assess the Family Alliance from a Functional/Clinical Perspectivep. 34
Mike's Family: A Cooperative Alliancep. 35
Nancy's Family: A Stressed Alliancep. 39
Frankie's Family: A Collusive Alliancep. 43
Tania's Family: A Disordered Alliancep. 46
Discussionp. 50
Referencesp. 53
Chapter 3 The Structural Foundations of the Family Alliancesp. 55
The Assessment Schemep. 56
The Four Functions in Trilogue Playp. 57
The Four Levels of Nonverbal Interaction: Pelves, Torsos, Gazes, Expressionsp. 58
Formationsp. 59
The Interplay Between Parents and Infantp. 68
The Triangular Framework over the Entire Play and the Interplay of Influence Within Itp. 69
Conclusionsp. 77
Referencesp. 79
Chapter 4 Process Reading, or the Dynamic Foundations of Family Alliancesp. 81
Miscoordination and Repair During Transitions in Medical Interactionsp. 82
Miscoordination and Repair in Infant Interactionsp. 85
Transitions and Miscoordinationsp. 86
Conclusionsp. 98
Referencesp. 99
Chapter 5 Developmental Reading: The Infancy of Triangular Processp. 101
Intersubjective Triangulationp. 103
Social Triangulationp. 113
Conclusionsp. 119
Referencesp. 120
Chapter 6 The Reading of the Working Alliance Leading to Framing Interventionsp. 123
Assessing the Working Alliancep. 124
Framing the Volunteer Familyp. 131
Stability and Change in Family Alliancesp. 135
Referencesp. 138
Chapter 7 Systems Consultations with Therapists and Clinical Familiesp. 141
A Systems Consultationp. 141
The Format of the Systems Consultationp. 144
Direct Interventionp. 146
The Conduct of Direct Interventionp. 147
The Professional Network Around the Familyp. 151
A Systems Consultation for the Therapist and the Couplep. 155
Referencesp. 158
Chapter 8 Bridging Infant Development and Family Processp. 161
Multiple Readingsp. 161
Triangular Frameworksp. 162
Revisiting Triangulation from a Developmental Perspectivep. 164
Clinical Triangulations in the Light of Normative Processp. 167
The Practicing Family in a Context of Changep. 169
The Primary Triangle As a Whole: Gains and Lossesp. 176
Family Alliances: An Integrationp. 178
Conclusionsp. 184
Notesp. 185
Referencesp. 188
Appendix A LTP Resultsp. 197
Appendix B The Lausanne Triadic Play Instructionsp. 201
Indexp. 203