ABSTRACT

The third year of life is the last of three decisive years where the foundations of the personality, deep structure of the psyche, and model for perceiving the world are all formed. Recognition of the great significance of the first three years of life did not begin with Freud: Charles Darwin already was a proponent of this view. In his biography of Darwin, Bowlby described a conversation between portraitist William Richmond and Darwin, where Darwin was asked in which years a child receives his most indelible impressions. His answer was, “Without doubt the first three,” and he explained that “It is a virgin brain adapted to receive impressions although unable to formulate or memorize these. They nonetheless remain and can affect the whole future life of the child recipient” (Bowlby, 1990, p. 430). Although there was even less known then than now about the links between cognitive and psychic development, Darwin comprehended the crucial importance of these years.