Some decades ago, David Schecter (1973), an interpersonal analyst from the William Alanson White Institute and a member of Sybil Escalona's infant research team, developed the concept of strangeness anxiety. Schecter foreshadowed the discovery by attachment researchers of
the basic significance of the interpersonal context in the shaping and reshaping of the meaning of trauma in human personality. Schecter asserted that an infant's sense of "continuity of being" can be traumatically disrupted if the mothering person fails to help render the strange into what is engagingly novel or even familiar. Schecter's is a particularly important formulation insofar as it accurately defines trauma not according to its specific content, form, or objective magnitude, but by the degree to which it cannot be held or contained by a person without a flooding of unintegratable affect. He observed that, to cope with oncoming psychological disorganization, the infant "freezes" (one of the hallmarks of a dissociative response to trauma), leading to what he called "dys-recognition of me-ness" and disruption of the subjective continuity of "1." Trauma, in these terms, is caused by the "shock of strangeness" in an interpersonal field on which the security of selfhood depends and is relative to the developmental threshold at which the person can accommodate the strangeness at that point in time.