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For newborns it is essential for survival,

Temple Mount + Intihuatana, Machu Picchu, Peru
Temple Mount + Intihuatana, Machu Picchu, Peru


if they are not capable of acting themselves, then at least to understand those individuals who can act i.e. first to understand the mother and her actions and then later, if possible, to be able to predict her intentions i.e. to recognise her intentions and to behave in such a way that the desired care behaviour is achieved.

Likewise, mothers learn to interpret the behaviour of their newborn children and to recognise their children’s intentions and wishes. Here is the place where mentalisation first emerged and further levels of intentionality were tested, because they were absolutely necessary for the infant survival.

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IV.    The networked brain

Hypothesis 13

Mother and newborn 1

Intihuatana + Temple Mount, Machu Picchu, Peru
Intihuatana + Temple Mount, Machu Picchu, Peru


The helplessness of the human newborn requires a new form of communication. The newborn monkey can communicate through purposeful actions.

The human newborn cannot. Instead, mothers have to guess their newborn’s wishes. They must understand the baby’s intentions in order to be able to provide the appropriate care.

Explanation:

While a newborn monkey is already an active member of its social group, the human newborn is helpless. The phenomena of mentalisation and intentionality are important to understand the mechanisms that work here and the abilities that need to be mastered by individuals.

Dunbar describes it as follows:

Nevertheless, primatologists have always assumed that there is such a thing as “social cognition” (a form of social recognition). This ability manifests itself in people as being able to put themselves in the mind of another person (a phenomenon known in psychological literature as “mentalising”.

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